The City of Richmond’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) announced a new content initiative, “Portraits of Immigrant Voices,” on RVAStrong to honor National immigrants’ Day on Wednesday, October 28.
OMA will publish three portraits the first day and will continue to publish one portrait every weekday through Thanksgiving. Click here for the online gallery of available portraits, which will be updated daily.
Artist Alfonso Pérez painted each portrait and writer Joe Kutchera interviewed the subjects and wrote the life story that accompanies each portrait. Virginia Humanities and the City of Richmond’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) have funded the project.
“We are excited to launch this art and storytelling initiative to tell the stories of 24 immigrants who have come to Richmond from around the world,” says Karla Almendarez-Ramos, the manager of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. “Not only do these stories exemplify the diversity of immigrant experiences in our city, but they humanize OMA’s mission: to create equitable opportunities for all residents across the City of Richmond by overcoming cultural and language barriers.”
“There’s no one story of Richmond, and that’s what makes our city vibrant,” said Mayor Stoney. “I’m so proud of the work of OMA and grateful we’ve been able to partner with such talented local creatives to give all of us a more complete understanding of the experiences of our neighbors.”
National Immigrants’ Day has been celebrated since 1986, mostly in larger metropolises like New York City. OMA brings this celebration to the City of Richmond to highlight the city’s cultural diversity and the variety of languages spoken. The stories shed light on the challenges of migration and displacement as well as the commonalities of learning to speak English and acculturating to America.
About the Artist and Author:
Alfonso Pérez Acosta is a Colombian artist and muralist who serves as the art program director at Sacred Heart Center as well as the co-director of the ARCA project (Art, Reconciliation and Civic Advocacy) with RVA Thrives, bridging African American and Latin American youth through public art.
Joe Kutchera is a writer, bilingual digital content advisor and the author of three books. He has lived in Richmond, VA since 2013 with his wife, who is from Mexico.
“Every person I have interviewed is grateful to call the peaceful city of Richmond, Virginia home,” says Kutchera. “Our subjects truly appreciate America’s freedom, democracy and the way their neighbors have accepted them. They have changed how I see our own city and country. And so, the overall theme of gratitude has become clear, which is why we decided to extend the exhibit through Thanksgiving.”
The virtual exhibit of “Portraits of Immigrant Voices” will appear at RVAStrong.org/portraits, on the Office of Multicultural Affairs Facebook page as well as on Alfonso Pérez’s Instagram page, A Drawing Table and JoeKutchera.com.
The in-person exhibit will take place at Studio Two Three in Scott’s Addition (3300 W. Clay Street Richmond, VA 23230) in its large picture windows from November 23 through December 7. Richmonders can walk or drive by to see the portraits during this time of social distancing. Studio Two Three will also project Alfonso Pérez’s paintings after dark on the studio’s building for the opening of the exhibit on November 23.