Conversations on Immigration: Anni Holm

In a landmark collaboration between the Hand Art Center and the W.O.R.L.D (World Outreach, Research, Learning and Development) office, a panel of Stetson faculty, staff, and students spent the afternoon of September 12th discussing immigration. The panel, titled Faces of Immigration on the Stetson Narrative, focused on the “diverse community of people from various cultures, countries, languages, and faith traditions” and their “unique needs and concerns.”

The panelists included Yves-Antoine Clemmen, Chair of the Department of World Language and Culture, Yohann Ripert, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Genicelle W Barrington, Class of 2020 World Languages and Culture and Psychology Double Major, and Christophe Noblet, Head Coach of Tennis. Zoe M Weaver, Class of 2019 Global Development Major, moderated the panel.

We recently discussed the panel with moderator Zoe Weaver.

“We asked a lot of questions about the process and both the structural and unofficial obstacles that come with immigrating to the US. The panelists shared some of the changes over time in the system from when they first arrived. Your experience often depends on your country of origin, as some immigrants have an easier time integrating into the US both socially and legally.”

A portion of this collaborative event is closely linked to the Hand Art Center’s current exhibition: “Anni Holm: The Immigration Project.”

After the attacks of Sept. 11th 2001, an investigation revealed that two of the suicide pilots were in the United States on expired student visas. Anni Holm, a Danish multi-media artist living in the United States during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, wrote soon after that “international students were seen as a threat to American security and freedom.” A proposal was made to monitor all international students’ actions while in the United States by enforcing fingerprinting and tracking cards with chip implants to enhance national security.

In her exhibition, Anni Holm contends with all of the personal information the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS) chose to collect on international students in the US. As proposals were being made by various U.S. authorities to execute these plans, Holm began working on “The Immigration Project” in 2003. “I worked with international students from all over the world to obtain photos and fingerprints used to create large-scale digital portraits of each student,” Holm wrote. “The participants were all international students who chose to be involved in the project because they, like me, questioned the use of this information as a tool to secure America,” Holm said. Each image that Anni Holm created measures 57×43 inches and contains about 4000 life size fingerprints.

“The exhibit is the telling of a single part of this process and how even though we view these individuals as part of our community, they are often categorized by the fact that they are an immigrant.” – Zoe Weaver, Faces of Immigration on the Stetson Narrative Panel Moderator

Anni Holm: The Immigration Project is on display in the Hand Art Center through October 13th 2018. 

Tonya Curran, director of the Hand Art Center, says the Anni Holm exhibit exemplifies Stetson’s values, particularly “global citizenship.”

“We want to be good global citizens,” Curran said. “It’s a time when our country has so much going on politically and internationally, and there’s a lot of commentary, a lot of immigration and racial issues being brought up every day in the news. You look at the diversity of the faces and the ethnicities of the people coming to our country and, as a global citizen, you do want them to feel welcome, you want to learn about their culture and you want to share your culture.”

“There are so many conversations that could be had from this body of work,” Curran said, noting that a number of American students have not travelled outside of the country.

Those conversations include “trying to understand what other people who are our peers are experiencing and how it impacts them. Then, of course, because immigration is still an issue today, there are constant laws changing within our country about who should be allowed in and how they are going to be allowed in.”

Such discussions, Curran said, “are important to have” and motivated her to bring the Holm exhibit to Stetson. Both the Faces of Immigration Panel and the Anni Holm exhibit transition Stetson’s values from explanation into genuine conversation. Panel moderator Zoe Weaver also weighed in on the connection to Stetson values. “We discussed how this campus (and other universities) have the unique characteristic of being a “bubble” and often times, communities are not as diverse as what we see hear. If we want to truly be a global citizen, it cannot simply be campus wide, but rather throughout the community. This is one reason we would like to do another panel with members outside of the Stetson community as well.”

To explore “Anni Holm: The Immigration Project” and its link to Stetson’s values further, visit the Hand Art Center on Values Day, September 25th, from noon to 4pm for a cultural credit opportunity. Anni Holm will also being giving an Artist talk on September 26th from 7-8pm in the DuPont Ball Library Room 25L . The exhibit itself is on display in the Hand Art Center through October 13th.

For more information on current and upcoming events at the Hand Art Center, check out the Exhibits calendar at this link:

Hand Art Center Exhibit Calendar

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