Join the Welcoming Movement


 

By Alana Melanson

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FITCHBURG -- For the month of August, Rollstone Studios is host to "Immigrants in New England: An Old American Tradition," an exhibit that celebrates the diversity and contributions of immigrants throughout the region.

Photographer Mario Quiroz-Servellon, 37, who immigrated to the U.S. about 12 years ago from El Salvador and currently resides in Cambridge, has photographed immigrants of 45 different nationalities, and 20 of his black and white images, shot with film because he prefers "the craftsmanship of it," will be featured. He has portrayed these folks in their homes, at their jobs

Courtesy Photo / Mario Quiroz-Servellon Roxana, the Dominican owner of a beauty parlor in Jamaica Plain, tends to a client. This photo is part of Mario Quiroz-Servellon's "Immigrants in New England: An Old American Tradition" exhibit at Rollstone Studios, now through Aug. 31.
and businesses and on the street.

While Latin Americans largely outnumber most other immigrant groups currently, Quiroz-Servellon has chosen to portray immigrants not only from all over the world, but across different generations as well, even going as far back as a Russian Jewish woman who came to the U.S. during World War II to escape Nazism in Europe.

"The main idea is to outreach to different communities," Quiroz-Servellon said. "And Fitchburg has a growing immigrant population, so we thought it would be good to show to the rest of the community many of the talents that they are bringing into Fitchburg."

Despite the vast cultural differences between the folks he encountered during this project, he says he found a lot of similar values, and "almost everybody has an American flag in their house."

Quiroz-Servellon, who specializes in immigrant stories, has also done projects highlighting the large Mongolian population in Washington, D.C. and Arlington County, Va., as well as immigrant families in Arizona affected by the racial profiling brought about by Arizona Senate Bill 1070.

He says he does projects such as these to make people think about their views on immigration, in an attempt to make them realize that immigrants "have the same dreams and aspirations as everybody else."

Quiroz-Servellon says he only takes color photographs for commissioned work, choosing to focus on black and white when it comes to his personal art.

"Black and white photography is poetry, while color is a novel," he said.

Fitchburg is the second stop for the traveling exhibit, which just came from the Framingham Public Libary and will next head to the Jamaica Plain branch of the Boston Public Library and then to Boston's Chinatown.

A gallery opening reception on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. will include live music, refreshments and a narration by Quiroz-Servellon on each of the photos in the exhibit, which is sponsored by Welcoming Massachusetts, an initiative seeking to affirm Massachusetts as a welcoming place for all and to promote dialogue and understanding between immigrants and their receiving communities.

"Through Mario's beautiful pictures, he highlights the positive stories of immigrants that come to this country and are working really hard and are sharing their culture with the rest of the community," said Cristina Aguilera, coordinator of Welcoming Massachusetts and campaign manager for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.

Many immigrants come to the U.S. with different skill sets, she said, and often open their own businesses and restaurants and provide jobs to their communities. In a time when immigration is a highly contentious issue, Aguilera said she feels it necessary to highlight immigrant contributions, as well as foster discussion between immigrants and non-immigrants to foster integration.

Rollstone Studios is open Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. To contact Quiroz-Servellon or to see more of his work, visit marioquiroz.com. To learn more about Welcoming Massachusetts, visit welcomingma.org.

Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana sentinel.

For live link: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/local/ci_21235367/perception-place-immigrants-examined-rollstone-exhibit