Migration Patterns I & II
Immigration was always about them, there, somewhere. Living in the midwest for all my life I saw immigrants, but was not surrounded by immigrant issues. I knew I came from immigrant stock, noble, godly Swedes who braved the Atlantic passage to make sod huts and clear the land. I heard many romantic stories about kerosene lamps and mandolin string bands and coffee, lots and lots of coffee.
The new immigrants in the midwest were different than my stock of immigrants. They were all darker, some brown, some black, some with tones in between. But they had different religious traditions and different ways of living. I could astrerisk them as "not really my concern." They drove the taxis, rans the convenience stores, and staffed nail salons.
Until we moved to California. Now it's big to me. The yard crew that comes on site every week, none of whom speak English. The spanish speaking community is pervasive in this culture. But, again, they were different. They spoke a different language, lived in different communities and worshiped in different churches....Until we met Pastor H.
Pastor H. is a tent-making Covenant pastor who took us on a walking tour of his "parish." We saw the clothing and food distribution site, the after school tutoring classroom, equipped with new computers, we even visited one of his members who offers her apartment for children's Bible study. Average income per/family is about $2,000 and average apartment rent is $1,500. The couple both work jobs (some families have double jobs), live on that tight margine....and she made all 8 of us dinner! When I offered to make a contribution, Pastor H. smiled and said that it would not be a good idea because she loves to welcome stragners. I asked Pastor H. about immigration concerns, about the percentage of his community that were undocumented. He smiled and said "about 120%". "That big?" I asked. "Bigger" he replied.
I happened into my wife, Martha's, studio today and commented on two prints I have seen on the walls for several months. I was haunted by the images. She gave me permission to partially reproduce them above. They are part of an evolving series entitled "Migration Patterns." And while it is never appropriate to "explain" art, I could not help but feel she is speaking to this big issue in ways beyond words.