Kinetic Gallery features local migrant art

As part of National Hispanic Awareness month, Geneseo is currently hosting two art exhibits to celebrate the culture of local migrant farm workers.

In the Kinetic Gallery of the College Union, "Strengths and Struggles: Forty Years of Service to Migrant Farmworkers" is on display while Milne Library houses "Migrant Frame of Mind."

The Kinetic Gallery exhibit features a large-scale photo essay by photographer Laurie Dynes that according to Geneseo's Latin American studies' Web site, "Pays tribute to our nation's migrant farm workers, to the agricultural enterprises that employ them, and to the Geneseo Migrant Center's 40 years of outreach service to them."

Pictures depicting migrants both at work and at home line the walls, accompanied by informative plaques discussing some of the more pressing issues affecting these underprivileged people today.

"Strengths and Struggles" includes poetry by migrants about topics relevant to them. Many of the poems are reflections of past memories. A segment of the exhibition, called Project Bandana, features bandanas decorated by migrants to raise awareness about serious problems in the their community.

This exhibit provides a window into the realities of migrant life, and will be on display in the Kinetic Gallery until Oct. 17.

The "Migrant Frame of Mind" exhibit in Milne Library focuses on the artistic creations of migrants. One of the most impressive displays is a pair of hand-embroidered white and pink dresses with lively flowers stitched into the fabric. Migrant Eva K.A. of Geneva, N.Y. is the creator of both.

Migrant "mandalas" are a large part of the Milne exhibit. Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning "circle," and according to the exhibit, "In the camps the circle is used as the design format for any personal expression." Indeed, designs vary considerably in subject matter and style depending on the individual creator, ranging from migrant Jorge Ruiz Castillo's creation of cranes in a sky circling a flower bud, to Manuel Gomez's colorful drawing of attending school.

The exhibit also features two paintings done by migrant Juan Cavazos. One, entitled "Cesar Chavez," depicts a large head of Chavez, one of the men responsible for founding the National Farm Workers Association, which according to the paintings' description, later turned into the United Farm Workers. In the portrait, Chavez is smiling over the happy figures of fellow migrants who look up at him hopefully.

Another painting by Cavazos, "The Cherry Pickers are Working," depicts migrant workers with their bosses lounging isolated in the distance. Cavazos, in his artist's statement, said that he hopes the painting reveals, "the courage that we farm workers have dedicated to hard labor." Cavazos added that migrants not only work to make money, but labor is, "a reward which helps us survive and keeps us alive."

Cavazos' works express the views and needs of his people, as do the works of so many of the exhibit's other featured artists. "Migrant Frame of Mind" is an enlightening display on migrant culture that will be in Milne Library until Oct. 31.