Project Research – Looking for Multi-Cultural Chicago Stories!
I am a Southeast-Chicago-born visual artist creating a body of work for an upcoming exhibition that explores cultural memory and identity, specifically connected to the stories of female immigrants to the Southeast side of Chicago – at any point from Chicago’s beginnings to present day.
A variety of large immigrant populations have settled and established strong and vibrant communities in Southeast Chicago since its beginnings, including immigrants from Italy, Yugoslavia (later Serbia, Croatia, etc.), Mexico, Greece, and Poland, to name a few. Communities are place-holders for stories, narratives, and myths, yet communities and their unique cultures are often subject to shifting socioeconomic and political undercurrents. I am looking to bring to life the stories that are in danger of being lost, even erased. The work seeks to honor and make visible the (very) often hidden lives and stories of individual immigrant women and the significant role they played (and continue to play) in the formation and life of this often-forgotten corner of Chicago.
If you or a relative has immigrated to Chicago’s Southeast side, I would love to hear their/your story. I am also looking for photographic and other imagery either of you/your relative that expresses a facet of their life and individuality to incorporate in a non-representational way into this project (this will not be a representational/realistic interpretation of any image of you/them). I will maintain your family privacy, this project is intended to honor, and inn no way to exploit. It is not mandatory that I use a real name for the purpose of the project; that would be your discretion.
Please contact me at CathyFeeman@gmail.com if your interest is piqued; whether you have more specific questions about the project, or want to set up a time to talk! These interviews can be conducted via Skype or other video call if you are more comfortable.
Examples of previous work can be seen on this website
If you can help with this project, please try to provide as much information as you can about the woman that immigrated to the Southeast side (whether it is you, or a relative), and consider the following list of questions:
- Where did she come from: (Country and town/city, and year of birth – and if deceased, year of death)
- What were the circumstances that led to immigration to US/Chicago? (When did she come here? What led to her coming here? Did any other relatives/spouse come along?)
- Where did she live in the Southeast side?
- Did she have children?
- Tell me something about her life here: was she or a family member a small business owner? Active in the community, or church? Did she work outside the home? Family oriented? Care giver?
- Did she have any special hobbies, interests, talents or skills? What was she like?
- Is there any particular anecdotal stories that help us know something about her personality, character?
** In addition to the painted portion of this exhibition, there is also a project that utilizes written ‘snippets’ of the stories collected, in the tellers own words. Having the ability to also get a portion of these written stories translated into the subject’s native language would be a powerful component to the project. If you can help with this, please let me know!