Italian artist Franca Marini exhibits her work titled Transnational Migration and Immigration at Kean University's Human Rights Institute from Feb. 1, 2018 to June 20, 2018.
This specific work was inspired by the refugee crisis in Italy. It challenges attendees to rethink how they judge and accept others by symbolically showing both the outer and inner journey of refugees through the use of strategically placed cloths.
Marini was born in Siena, Italy and has studied all throughout Europe to develop her artistic style. Eventually she came to the United States in the late 1980s to further her studies. She has since been creating site-specific installations and videos on metropolitan and human rights issues since 2005. Marini's work is featured in Italy, Costa Rica and the United States. She is currently a painting instructor at the Siena Art Institute for the State University of New York Siena Program of Buffalo State College in Italy.
The Transnational Migration and Immigration installation recounts the story of refugees seeking asylum in Italy from their war-ravaged countries from beginning to end. These refugees are largely from West Africa and coming to Italy through the Mediterranean escape route.
Marini represents their struggles through the use of black, grey and white cloths draped across the ceiling to the floor of the gallery. Visitors must travel through and in between the fabrics on their way to the end of the symbolic journey. In the beginning are the most tattered pieces of black fabric, which is representative of the first and major hardships the refugees must go through. The color black is also symbolic of the dark shroud refugees are encased in until they can see the light of hope as they grow nearer to their end destination.
The fabrics are lighter in color and more complete as guests reach the end. Even in the most ripped and dark pieces, however, light reflects on little bits of gold foil and pieces of lace. This is perhaps an indication of one's inner beauty and hope through his or her journey.
At the very end of the installation, attendees are faced with a wall projection of words, lush green forests and refugees's faces framed by white cloth. This journey is representative of the end of a refugee's journey as well as the hope refugees hold to find that symbolic inner peace and purity in their real lives.
Schané Flowers, an English major and Publicist Assistant of Kean University Relations, remarked, "I feel that, in terms of talking about immigration and migration, there's no better place in New Jersey than the Human Rights Institute at Kean. I love the contrasting fabrics with contrasting colors and shades between white, grey and black. It's very symbolic of not only the tattered past the migrants and immigrants leave behind but also the type of clothing they have to wear on their backs—the ways that they have to patch up the holes that they have left behind—and I feel like it is very symbolic and introspective. For an artist like Franca Marini to bring such creative critical thinking to students on campus is very invoking, especially considering what's currently going on in the U.S. and globally."
The Transitional Migration and Immigration exhibit is free for anybody to experience at Kean University's Human Rights Institute Gallery.
Gallery hours are as followed:
Monday-Wednesday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information on the exhibit, visit the Kean Galleries website: http://www.kean.edu/~gallery/Welcome.html
For more information on Franca Marini and her work, visit her website: http://www.francamarini.com.