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RECAP: Exhibit Opening and Community Conversation #1

Did you miss our opening? You have all month to check out The Baystate: A Multicultural Landscape at The Gables!

On Tuesday night, The Baystate: A Multicultural Landscape opened at The House of the Seven Gables Visitor Center. A sample of a photographic collection that contains more than 400 Massachusetts residents representing 190 countries will be on view through March 2. The exhibit is free and open to the public during operating hours.

The photos have been taken by Mark Chester over the course of the past seven years with the goal to bring awareness to cultural diversity in the state. Each image is styled to have “individuals looking into the camera, telling stories through expression, place and pose.” Each of the subjects are foreign-born, naturalized U.S. citizens residing in the Commonwealth. A book is in the process of being compiled, with hopes to publish soon. The MIRA Coalition is the benficiary of Mr. Chester’s work.

Our first community conversation of 2018 featured Mr. Chester and Diane Portnoy, the executive director of the Immigrant Learning Center in Malden. Using stories from the ILC and from the exhibit, both speakers focused on positive contributions that have been made by local immigrants. Ms. Portnoy shared a number of intriguing statistics from reports that have been gathered by the ILC, while Mr. Chester used examples from each of the photographs featured to give a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lives of the state’s newest citizens.

After each of the presentations, the enthusiastic audience, which include staff from MIRA, subjects of Mr. Chester’s work, current students in our own ESL/Citizenship classes, and Gables members and supporters, prompted a number of conversational points about the impact of immigrants in their own experiences. In a time where immigration is a hot button topic, Ms. Portnoy tied the conversation and exhibit together by sharing some of the experiences of her students: “every mother worries about their children; every father worries about their children; underneath we are the same and this project is showing this. There is more that brings us together than tears us apart.”

For more information,please check out:

Mark Chester:
Video about the exhibit:
MIRA Coalition:
The Immigrant Learning Center:
Video about The Immigrant Learning Center:



Date: February 1, 2018

Author: sperling

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