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Opening night reception: February 7, 2014
A new exhibit called “Over Land & Sea: Spearfish Immigration Stories,” will be unveiled during an opening night reception in The Matthews Art Gallery on Friday, February 7, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The reception will feature many of the Spearfish citizens who participated in this exhibit. Their framed photos and personal immigration experiences will be on the gallery walls. It is free and open to the public. The exhibition will continue through Saturday, February 22 during normal art gallery hours — Tuesday through Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

This exhibition is part of The Big Read that is currently going on in Spearfish with the book, “The Namesake.” There are eleven Spearfish citizens who have agreed to participate. They are Scott Gillis, Petra Hansen, Parthasarathi Nag, Micheline Nelson, Jytte Bowers, Jonna Henwood, Florence Tan, Edith Miles, Dago Rodriguez, Ahrar Ahmad, and Abby Domogail. Kaija Swisher, Director of the Writing Center at Black Hills State University and former Black Hills Pioneer reporter, conducted each interview. Each written interview will be posted on the art gallery walls next to their framed photographs.

This event will attempt to provide insight into:

“What does it mean to be an immigrant in the United States? What does it mean to be an American?”

Kaija Swisher drew parallels of the Spearfish immigration stories and “The Namesake.” “The Big Read has allowed many in Spearfish to experience Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. The novel tells the story of a newly-married couple who moves from India to the United States and highlights their experience of life in a new country, as well as the life of their children, born in the United States.”

“The Namesake gives readers a chance to see some of the day-to-day choices, struggles, joys, perspectives, hopes, and questions of a couple who was raised in a different country, as they embrace a new nation and hold on to their ties to their homeland. The novel brings up questions of identity, tradition, namesakes, family, culture, and more, as readers follow the characters’ unique journeys,” continues Swisher.

In this exhibit, the observer will have the chance to read about immigrant stories from citizens in and near Spearfish. Realizing what South Dakotan born and bred people take for normal or for granted is quite a social and cultural shock for those who first arrive here from another country.