Portraits of People on the Move at Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, October 27 and 28

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is presenting Silvana Cardell’s Supper, People on the Move, accompanied by Jennifer Baker’s exhibit of first person stories and photographs Portraits of People on the Move on October 27 and 28 at Randy Shull and Hedy Fischer’s 22 London Rd. Studio in Asheville, NC. Photographer Steve Mann and UNC Asheville journalist Karen Lopez will be adding stories of “People on the Move” in the Western North Carolina community.

For more information: https://www.blackmountaincollege.org/supper-people-move/

Tickets Available Here $8 for BMCM+AC members and youth 18 + under / $10 non-members

 

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Portrait of Sergio Gomez Franco

“…we arranged to come to Asheville in order to help our youngest son pursue his dreams.”

BMC_147Photo by Steve Mann

I came to the U.S. for the first time with my father and arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada when I was 16 years old. I was not able to attend school because I had to work. I was here for 2 years and at the age of 18, I went back to Mexico to marry the woman who stole my heart.

My wife and I came to the U.S. and arrived in Las Vegas again where we lived for one year. My wife missed her family and her hometown so we moved back to Mexico. Years later, I came back to the U.S., leaving my wife and children behind due to financial reasons. I tried to obtain visas for my children but it wasn’t possible. I then had to move back to Mexico.

11 years later, our children were growing up. Two got married and our youngest son was still growing. My son had always wanted to learn English. At the age of 11, he was taught to speak English by one of my family members who was in college. My son liked the language a lot and he would tell me that he wanted to go to the U.S. and stay with the family I had there.

My son worked for a year and a half and saved money to buy a visa. I helped him to pay for some of it and he was able to obtain the document for a decade. We bought his flight ticket and he arrived in Asheville for the first time where he stayed with my family. He was 14 years old.

He loved it; he loved school and the style of living.  But he missed the family, so he would often call us and say how much he needed us to come and stay with him. I didn’t have a visa so my son came back to Guadalajara to work and help me save up to obtain a visa. While working, my son kept attending school and learning English. After a time, we managed to save enough money and my son wanted to come back to Asheville. He wanted to study and continue his higher education in the U.S.

My wife and I spoke, and we arranged to come to Asheville in order to help our youngest son pursue his dreams. My wife and I had a stable living in Mexico as I was working and she had obtained a degree in accounting. But we left everything behind for our son. By everything I mean material things, because God has blessed us in giving us what we need. We have met wonderful people that have helped us until this day, such as my boss who became a great friend and role model to me. And my son has been given the opportunity to attending AB Tech and dreams of continuing his education at UNC Charlotte.

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is presenting the performance of Silvana Cardell’s Supper, People on the Move, accompanied by Jennifer Baker’s exhibit Portraits of People on the Move, on October 27 and 28 at Randy Shull and Hedy Fischer’s 22 London Rd. Studio in Asheville, NC. New portraits — “People on the Move” in western North Carolina by photographer Steve Mann and UNC Asheville journalist Karen Lopez — have been added.

For more information: http://www.blackmountaincollege.org/supper-people-move/

 

Portrait of Veronica Lopez

“I was never able to have what I wanted and sometimes I didn’t even have what I needed. This was the reason that made me decide to start working when I was nine years old.”

BMC_096Photo by Steve Mann

Throughout my childhood, I remained neglected by my family, because I was a child born outside of marriage. My mother started getting sick and had to get surgery, because a cancerous tumor was developing. I was the youngest of her children, so she had to leave me with my grandmother. During this time, my grandmother maltreated me. She would hit me for no reason and call me mean names. She would make me do a lot of unnecessary cleaning. When it came to dinner, she wouldn’t let me eat what everyone else was eating. And if she did, she would serve everyone else first, and if there was food left in the pan, that was my dinner.

After staying with my grandmother for a few months, I was taken to my aunt’s house. I thought things would be different and better there, but it wasn’t, one of my older cousins tried to rape me. I tried telling my aunt about the situation, but she didn’t believe me. She thought I was lying. Luckily by now, my mother had recuperated from her surgery and my aunt brought me back home, because she didn’t want to have a “lying” child in her house.

I was back at home now, but we remained financially unstable. My mom was solely raising me and my three other siblings. I was never able to have what I wanted and sometimes I didn’t even have what I needed. This was the reason that made me decide to start working when I was nine years old. I would help my brother sell his CDs at the street market on the weekends. During the week, I would wake up at 5 am to do my chores around the house and then walk to school because we didn’t have a car. On the way to school or back home, I would get assaulted and get money or my shoes stolen.

After I graduated from high school, I went to college and continued working. I came to have my own little business and sold jackets at the same market my brother did. I would work to have my own things and pay for my college tuition. But I married my childhood sweetheart at the age of 17, and dropped out of school. I didn’t go back to school because I had gone through one of the most traumatic phases in my life. I had lost my newborn baby who lived for only 13 days. My husband had been using drugs behind my back and for this reason, my daughter passed away. He then left for another state to work with his father, and never came back. He didn’t care what I was going through; I was in depression. I fled to Santa Monica, California to live with an aunt for the first time. My aunt suffered domestic violence at home, so I went back to Mexico. I didn’t want to see violence while I already faced a lot in my life with the loss of my daughter.

After a time, I started dating someone who had been traveling to the U.S. He would talk to me about how great America was and he convinced me to come back. I decided to immigrate to start a new life. I arrived in North Carolina in 1989, hoping to escape from my depression. Once I moved in with him and his family, things turned out differently. He and his family started to maltreat me. His sisters were like the evil stepsisters and I was Cinderella. They would make me do all the house chores, cooking, and cleaning. They would lock me in the house so I wouldn’t go out and make friends. I would sneak out of the window to go to school and learn English. They wanted to keep me isolated away from the world so I wouldn’t prosper.

I started to work and I started to save money. I was able to buy my car and have my own things. Suddenly I felt sick one day, and when I went to the doctor I was informed that I was pregnant. But my partner didn’t want me to have the baby, he wanted me to abort. The next day, he lied to me saying we were going to the clinic to get an ultrasound. When I sat down, the girl next to me asked if I was getting an abortion too. I was so upset about the situation, I pretended to go to the bathroom and I walked out. Once I was home, I set all of his clothes in trash bags outside. I knew that I would never forgive what he had done. I had already lost a baby, I couldn’t have tolerated losing another.

My mind was focused on giving my baby the best of my ability. I worked overtime throughout my entire pregnancy to have and save money. Once my baby was born, I waited a few months and moved to Atlanta, Georgia. This is where I met Abiel Bonilla, who became someone of great importance in my life. He helped me raise and educate my daughter. Together we worked hard and bought a house to give her a good living. I’m no longer with this person.  I now remain solo, raising my children to the best of my ability with the help of my mother.

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is presenting the performance of Silvana Cardell’s Supper, People on the Move, accompanied by Jennifer Baker’s exhibit Portraits of People on the Move, on October 27 and 28 at Randy Shull and Hedy Fischer’s 22 London Rd. Studio in Asheville, NC. New portraits — “People on the Move” in western North Carolina by photographer Steve Mann and UNC Asheville journalist Karen Lopez — have been added.

For more information: http://www.blackmountaincollege.org/supper-people-move/

 

 

Portrait of Marlene Rangel

“If it wasn’t for DACA, I know that I wouldn’t be in college.”

BMC_118Photo by Steve Mann

I was eight years old when I left my home.  I remember my parents waking me up to leave, but I didn’t know where we were going. We had to walk for a long time and then cross a river. That’s when it hit me and I realized we were actually going somewhere far. We rode a cold train, and then flew on a plane. I remember wanting to sleep, but my parents wouldn’t let me because they were afraid that I would get hyperthermia and not wake up again. They would hug me close to keep me warm, but I remained cold and hungry.

Once in the U.S. I started school, but I didn’t know how to speak English. My dad would come to school with me for the first weeks so I could get used to it. It was so hard to adjust and get used to everything especially because I had classes with mostly English speakers. I did have one classmate who was Hispanic. He and I became very good friends, because we both spoke Spanish and understood each other well.

I finished the school year, and passed to the next grade level. I then took summer school and that helped me catch up on my English. I had to learn English because I wanted to get along with my classmates and make friends. As the years passed, my English improved and I adjusted to the American culture.

Everything had fallen into place and I was comfortable feeling a part of the American society. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school, where things changed and reality hit me. I came to find out that I could not go to college because I was undocumented. This whole time I knew that I wasn’t from here, but I didn’t know that I couldn’t go to college for that same reason. This was really hard for me because I wanted to go to college. I wanted to be a nurse and it was heartbreaking to find out that my dream wasn’t going to be easy to achieve.

My parents have remained my motivation to keep myself in school. I know that if my parents would have had the opportunity to go to college, then my dad wouldn’t be working in construction and our style of living would have been different. My dad has always told me that if he would have had the opportunity to go to college, his dream would have been to become a mechanic.

In 2012, Obama passed the executive order, DACA (The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). This 2-year permit granted young undocumented individuals a temporary license and social security number with the condition that all applicants fulfill certain requirements. If it wasn’t for DACA, I know that I wouldn’t be in college. This made it easier for me to be accepted in community college and afford it. Perhaps I would have eventually gone to college, but it would have been harder to afford.

After graduating high school in 2013, I continued my education. As a DACA student, I couldn’t get into the nursing program or obtain a practice license. Knowing this, I still maintained myself in school hoping that one day the community college would change its policies for DACA students to be allowed practice licenses. I now know that anything is possible. I have the opportunity to be what I want and do what I want. I have to take that opportunity and not waste it.

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is presenting the performance of Silvana Cardell’s Supper, People on the Move, accompanied by Jennifer Baker’s exhibit Portraits of People on the Move, on October 27 and 28 at Randy Shull and Hedy Fischer’s 22 London Rd. Studio in Asheville, NC. New portraits — “People on the Move” in western North Carolina by photographer Steve Mann and UNC Asheville journalist Karen Lopez — have been added.

For more information: http://www.blackmountaincollege.org/supper-people-move/

 

Portrait of Diego Vargas

“I just focused my mind on the future and what I wanted to achieve.”

BMC_043 1Photo by Steve Mann

My father left my mother when I was a baby. He left her with three children to raise on her own, so we weren’t financially stable. My family and ancestors in our town had always been poor and humble. Food, clothes, money, and everything had always been scarce. People worked and continue working to only make enough for the day’s sustainment.

My mother wanted to give us a better living and future. So she took care of us for a few years until I was old enough to be independent. I was eight years old when she left for the U.S., leaving my brother and I with our grandparents. But my family would lie to my mom saying that they were taking good care of us. My mother would send us money, but they wouldn’t give it to us or buy us anything with it. They would maltreat us, and discriminate against us because we were different; we were children of a man they did not like. My brother ended up becoming the father figure in my life. He was the one who cared for me and raised me, to the best of his ability.

I was 11 years old when my 13-year-old brother and I had to drop out of school. We didn’t have the resources and money to keep ourselves in school, because our grandparents wouldn’t help us. We didn’t have money to pay for the public school’s fees, transportation, uniforms, and school supplies. Our childhood was rough. We had to leave school to work to make enough money to eat. I would work for my grandfather by raising and taking care of his cows. After a year, my brother and I had saved enough money and we fled to Tijuana, Mexico where we had an aunt to receive us. We had heard about Tijuana having many job opportunities and how it was a frontier city next to America.

It was hard for us to flee, because we were underage and didn’t have an adult with us. I can’t remember if we paid security to let us go, but I remember telling them that we were heading to Tijuana, and my brother was the oldest and the one in charge.

Once we arrived in Tijuana, we contacted my mother in the U.S. and explained everything that had happened to us and why we had fled. My mother was in such despair after hearing the news. She decided to leave everything she had in the U.S. to reunite with us. My brother and I continued to work in order to make a living, so we never went back to school.

I had always desired for us to have a house of our own, for my mother to live better, and for me to have my own things too. I was now 17 years old, so I decided to immigrate to the U.S. I remember having a lot of thoughts in my head before leaving home. I had heard many things about people dying or getting kidnapped at the frontier. I prayed for the best and asked for my mother’s blessings. I didn’t know if I would be back or if something bad would happen on the way there. I just focused my mind on the future and what I wanted to achieve. In my head I thought, ‘I want to go to the U.S. I have to go to the U.S., no matter what it takes.’

I remember my mom cooking a delicious authentic farewell dinner, pork with green salsa. My mother blessed me and told me not forget about her or the family, and for me to not change and always remain humble.

Once in the U.S., I arrived in North Carolina after a month of travel. I had uncles and cousins who already lived there and they helped me obtain a job at a restaurant. I have been working ever since and now work in construction. My mind continues to be set in giving my mother and my future family a suitable living.

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is presenting the performance of Silvana Cardell’s Supper, People on the Move, accompanied by Jennifer Baker’s exhibit Portraits of People on the Move, on October 27 and 28 at Randy Shull and Hedy Fischer’s 22 London Rd. Studio in Asheville, NC. New portraits — “People on the Move” in western North Carolina by photographer Steve Mann and UNC Asheville journalist Karen Lopez — have been added.

For more information: http://www.blackmountaincollege.org/supper-people-move/

 

Portrait of Carolina Perez

“I will always help my community to the best of my ability, therefore I wish to continue my education and obtain a graduate degree in social policy.”

BMC_013Photo by Steve Mann

I was two years old when my mother and I flew into Miami, Florida. My mother had just divorced my biological father back in Mexico and she needed time to cope. She had family in North Carolina so we decided to travel up north and stay in Hendersonville. I don’t remember much of when we came to the U.S., but I remember my mom telling me that coming into the U.S. for her was like coming into a whole new world.

We lived in a housing complex for several years. My mother then remarried, marrying a migrant farmer and causing us to move into migrant housing apartments for farm working families. My parents didn’t get much education. My stepfather never finished high school. I remember that as a child he had 2 jobs. He worked in a factory and as a janitor while my mother worked cleaning homes and attended school to learn English and obtain her GED. Even though we were an undocumented farm working family we worked hard enough to have a decent living. It amazes me to think that what my parents earned during that time to raise a family was always enough.

My mother has always valued education, therefore she dreamed of obtaining a degree. But the community college system didn’t offer opportunities for undocumented individuals during this time and her English wasn’t proficient enough to continue a higher education. We then started to travel to Florida for migrant farming purposes and moved about 3 or 4 times a year. Watching how hard my parents worked to get a living income motivated me to pursue a different lifestyle. My parents have always been supportive of my education. I remember my parents taking me to the thrift store every weekend to look for a computer that I liked and would best suit me. I was an interesting child because I didn’t own many toys, instead, I owned books and liked to write.

Most of the cousins in my family that were my age were born in the U.S. For the longest time I thought I was like them. It wasn’t until the age of 15 when I found out that I was different, and was denied the opportunity to get a job and obtain a driving permit. I was in complete utter dismay as I found out the reality. That was the moment I realized that it was going to take a more than average effort to just be normal. And I didn’t want to be normal. I had always been an overachiever; a competitive individual with high expectations for myself in what I can do, give, and achieve.

In 2008, North Carolina passed a legislation that prohibited undocumented individuals to attend universities and community college systems. I was in 10th grade during this time. I remember the newspaper coming out with an article and overhearing a lot of undocumented upper classmen in school talking and expressing concern about the legislation that had passed banning undocumented students from state college systems. This didn’t stop me from dreaming. I knew that I was going to go to college. I didn’t know how, but I knew that I would go.

I spoke to my parents about continuing my education and they supported the idea. I researched and found a university in Florida that was offering full scholarships to undocumented students and I fulfilled all of their requirements. But a year before I graduated, a huge market crash occurred in Florida. This affected the university causing it to cancel my scholarship and all of the other scholarships and help to undocumented students. I then had to look for other options. I had to apply to other universities and colleges that were near so I wouldn’t have to pay for unaffordable housing. All of the colleges that I had applied to accepted me and later sent me international student financial affidavits. But I couldn’t apply for financial aid. I didn’t have a social security number.

In 2010, legislation passed that allowed undocumented students to attend community college with certain conditions. This is when I decided to attend Blue Ridge Community College in Hendersonville, NC. Undocumented students had to pay out-of-state tuition and only register for classes on the first day of school. I remember getting the leftover classes, because the rest were full. This legislation was for undocumented students to not take the seats of those that were documented. As an undocumented student, I couldn’t apply for financial aid and my family didn’t have the money. I had to get a second job and work full time as I went to school full time.

After community college, I continued to pursue a bachelor’s degree and transferred to Brevard College. This college was the best option as it offered half tuition for local students. But obstacles continued to rise in my college journey. I had to buy a car to drive to school and I didn’t have a license. School became more expensive when I received my first bill for the semester of $9,000.

I was enrolled in the education program at Brevard to become a high school teacher. Before taking the teaching exam, I came to find out that I couldn’t take the test because I was undocumented. This meant that I could have a degree, but not be able to teach in a public school. I had to switch my major, but I couldn’t afford to stay any longer. I had to choose a degree that best fit with the classes that I had already taken, and the best option was English literature

In June 2012, Obama passed the executive order, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). This temporary permit allowed undocumented students to obtain a social security number and a license. I applied and received the permit. And after graduating Brevard College, I applied to Eastern Tennessee State University to obtain a master’s degree. I was now a DACA student, but the university still denied my scholarship for the same reason. Tuition was still going to be out-of-state and I could not afford that so I ended up not going to graduate school.

The time away from school has helped me realize where I stand in American society. I realized that no matter where you go, your calling is going to follow you. I will always help my community to the best of my ability, therefore I wish to continue my education and obtain a graduate degree in social policy.

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is presenting the performance of Silvana Cardell’s Supper, People on the Move, accompanied by Jennifer Baker’s exhibit Portraits of People on the Move, on October 27 and 28 at Randy Shull and Hedy Fischer’s 22 London Rd. Studio in Asheville, NC. New portraits — “People on the Move” in western North Carolina by photographer Steve Mann and UNC Asheville journalist Karen Lopez — have been added.

For more information: http://www.blackmountaincollege.org/supper-people-move/

 

Portrait of Oana Botez

“I was suffocating in a country that felt it has no future.”

Oana_Botez_by_Baranova_2016_045.jpgOana Botez is a costume and set designer from Bucharest, Romania.  Photo by Maria Baranova

I was suffocating in a country that felt it has no future. The toxicity of a totalitarian system that took over so many generations and penetrated to a level that felt like generations had to pass by in order for Romanian people to find a new personal independent democratic voice. A voice that was inclusive to all the ethnic groups, where it will protect gender equality, a non-corrupt voice that will respect basic human rights.

What do I remember from the day I left? Leaving behind my family.

I flew into New York. It wasn’t my first visit. I always loved the dynamism of New York and the fact you can get lost in a world of a variety of humans coming from everywhere. The life force of New York is unique.

161109TDMDreamPlayREH-555.jpgA Dream Play by August Strindberg, adapted and directed by Daniel Kramer                                        Set and costume design by Oana Botez, at Farkas Hall, Harvard University

Portraits of People on the Move tells the stories of Philadelphia-area immigrants through their own words on the Supperdance.com blog and was first shown as an exhibition June 25–28, 2015, at the Gray Area of Crane Arts in Philadelphia. The exhibition was created as a companion work to Supper, People on the Move by Cardell Dance Theater, a dance inspired by themes of migration.