Speaking of Home
The exhibition 'Speaking of Home' is a project created by Nancy Ann Coyne. She is a photographer and public artist, with exhibitions both at the national and international level. Her most recent work involves the creation of large-scale installations that expand and explore the qualities of documentary photography built into an environmental setting. The 'Speaking of Home' exhibit was initiated in 2005 and is the first public art project that has been created for the Minneapolis skyway system.
Coyne was the curator for the exhibition, which consisted of 23 photos of family members and individuals from different countries. The pieces were black and white, translucent, large-scale photographs on cloth that were put on the windows of a high-traffic skyway in Nicollet Mall. Each of the pictures portrayed individuals that had immigrated to Minnesota for various reasons ranging from disaster to politics. In the photographs was the word home written in white, in the language of the country that each family came from. Each photo shows a few members of whom Coyne collaborated with to create her exhibition. She was able to photograph them in a way that was able to portray the reasons why they immigrated to Minnesota, almost as a narrative of the major change in their life from one country to another. The main theme was to portray the different meanings of what the word 'home' means as it is something that is represented in every culture, but carries a different meaning from place to place. The photos were created in such a large scale to represent the enormous changes that each individuals experience as they transition in their immigrations to Minnesota. Coyne noted that "Having a home is important to every culture," where the exhibition underscores the importance of an affordable and safe living place for everyone to come home to. She also talked about how having a home isn't necessarily what we see, hear, or the things that we own, but instead a word that is not contained by any single definition, but instead one that transcends all of the senses. She specifically wanted people to consider what is the elusive thing that we each call home in our own way.
A piece that i found interesting was the Elsa Mekuria photograph which showed a mother and her son from Ethiopia. The photo shows a woman in a white dress embracing her son in her arms. Elsa Mekuria had been born and raised in Ethiopia but decided to move to the United States with her son to avoid the political instability of the country. She had taken this photo of herself as a memento to leave with her family as she and her son left for the U.S, leaving other family behind. She had stated that she moved to Minnesota in order to create a better life for her and her son, and because she wanted to be able to escape the stereotype of being a stay at home mother. She wanted to live in a place where her and her son would be able to create and make their own decisions, and where they would be able to follow their dreams. Like I had stated earlier, the curator had wanted each photograph to represent what different people called or considered their home in their countries of origin, and wanted to tell their immigration story.
I would recommend this exhibition to a friend, I think that it has a very neat message that it brings about what a home really is. It also made you think about what a home meant to you, and how the term can be interpreted differently when put in a different context. The exhibition portrayed the incredible diversity that can be found within the Twin Cities. Today there are more than 120 languages that are spoken by the children in our public school systems, and it is important to recognize the uniqueness and collaborative place that we live in but don't necessarily pay much attention to. It showed the importance of how a home can be created anywhere, and all you need is your family.