At a time when immigration is a hot-button issue, and as the country waits for the Senate to come to a deal about the replacement of the expiring DACA program, 16 young immigrants living in New York have decided to take back their narrative through photography and art.
“Real People. Real Lives. Women Immigrants of New York,” which opens on February 17 at the Queens Museum, features art and fashion photography from immigrant women. The photos, all taken by Australian-American photographer Dru Blumensheid, also known as BUMESI, capture the women at some of the city’s most recognizable spots, including in front of the Brooklyn Bridge and in Chinatown, which that they have adopted as their own.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, 6sqft chatted with Dru Blumensheid about her personal inspiration behind the project, what she learned from the experience, and how she hopes all New Yorkers can benefit from hearing these stories.
Obviously, immigration and feminism are both huge political topics right now. Why are they personally meaningful to you?
I am drawn to both because I am both. I spent almost all of my 20s as a US American immigrant in Australia. I became an Australian citizen in 2014. It took over six years to undergo the process and it was a challenge to maintain a career while doing this. But I did it and I defiantly will never regret it. As a feminist, I am one because I care about my future. If a woman is not a feminist at this moment in time, then they are choosing not to be free
The impressive looks on the carpet showed that these filmmakers have figured out that the attention you get in front of the photographers and interviewers there can be useful to get attention for your film when it plays in the fest – and beyond.
Artist Dru Blumensheid works on her multimedia piece 'Do Humans Dream Of Electric Sheep?'(Scott Heins/Gothamist)
A new exhibition program “Real People. Real Lives. Women Immigrants of New York,” on view at the Queens Museum, features the unique perspectives of 16 young women, their journey to America and life in New York City. The project is a unique nonprofit-artist partnership between New Women New Yorkers and Dru Blumensheid aka BUMESI. Photograph BUMESI, Arielle Kandell, founder and CEO of New Women New Yorkers and members of the organization, join us to introduce you to the women immigrants of New York.
Roxiny also funnels her experience it into feminist politics by using “9 Months” to raise awareness about violence against women. In addition to promoting women’s health on social media, she created a T-shirt campaign in collaboration with the visual artist Dru Blumensheid, the proceeds of which support Planned Parenthood. After the onerous experience that led up to “9 Months” and the song’s gratifying release, Roxiny is committed to foregrounding honesty, vulnerability, and fearlessness in and beyond her music.
Photographer Dru Blumensheid is no stranger to the processes of immigration. American by birth, Blumensheid endured a seven and a half year process of attaining Australian citizenship. Central to her artistic approach are questions of one’s place in the world, on a global and sociopolitical scale. Newly returned to America, she feels a call to service and plans to remain here for some time.
“With what’s happening now in America, I just really wanted to stay, and to do this — it feels important,” said Blumensheid.
Sisterhood is at the heart of New Women New York’s show. Blumensheid and Kandel partnered for this project after uniting for an NWNY benefit auction years ago, and the two have since become close friends. The models were shot individually, and for Blumensheid this was often the first meeting with the women, presenting a directorial challenge. Luckily, Kandel was along to make introductions. The two worked hand in hand, Blumensheid leading the photography effort and drawing upon her fashion design experience for inspiration, and Kandel taking point on interviewing the young women.
"My response was I'll fill the whole place, this is truly once in a lifetime," Doug Smith, head curator, smiled. Doug Smith is the head curator. The artists are doing more and more decorating, the walls really speak. "I thought it was a metaphor for the space, humans are rebuilding themselves at the present moment," Dru Blumenshield, a young female street artist, described of her installation.
Businesses are already on board to make this place their home. The artists are from all over the world, making their mark on our special place in the sky.