The experiences of new Americans in the borough of Queens are being examined in the exhibition “Crossing the BLVD: Strangers, neighbors, aliens in a new America,” which is currently on display at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College.
The exhibition was created by writer/photographer Warren Lehrer, who graduated from Queens College in 1997, and actress/oral historian/audio artist Judith Sloan.
Godwin-Ternbach Museum curator and director Amy Winter first became aware of the exhibit about three years ago when it was on display at the Queens Museum of Art, becoming immediately interested in it.
“This show dovetails perfectly with our community and mission,” said Winter. “Our students, faculty and staff represent an exact cross-section of the demographics of the borough itself.”
“Crossing the BLVD” tells the stories of those who came to Queens from other countries through photographs, text, and audio compositions. Along with Lehrer and Sloan writing briefly about the individuals, the people themselves also contributed written statements about their lives and experiences.
Some of the countries the people in the photographs hail from are Nigeria, China, Nepal, India, Bhutan, Barbados, Austria, Colombia, Afghanistan, Romania, Bosnia, Poland, Kuwait, Israel, Jamaica and Haiti, among others.
The exhibition also includes a story booth that allows visitors to record their own stories or access the electronic archive.
“It makes their lives and their experiences real for us,” Winter said of “Crossing the BLVD.” She continued, “I think it’s a tremendously important exhibition and beautifully done exhibition.”
Along with the exhibition fulfilling the museum’s mission, Winter said that it is very topical, since immigration issues continue to be debated in the United States. She described Queens as being a mirror in terms of immigration, with things happening in the United States after it happens in the borough.
“This is what we live with here in Queens,” Winter said. “This is the reality we deal with all the time. I think we do it well.”
Winter said that so far the exhibition, which opened February 4, has already been getting positive feedback and has been well-attended.
There will be several events connected to the exhibition. On Wednesday, March 12 at 4 p.m. the discussion “My America/Your America: Queens as a Lens on National Immigration” will be held in the Rosenthal Library Conference Room. There will be a related performance followed by a question and answer period at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 30 in the Goldstein Theatre.
A final event, entitled “Crossing the BLVD/Crossing the Cultural Divide,” will take place in the Goldstein Theatre at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 30.
“Crossing the BLVD: Strangers, neighbors, aliens in new America” will be on display through June 28.
The Godwin-Ternbach Museum is located in Klapper Hall on the Queens College campus at 65-30 Kissena Boulevard in Flushing. It is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will also be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, March 30 and April 20.
For more information, call 718-997-4747 or visit www.wc.cuny.edu/godwin_ternbach. Schools interested in arranging a tour or school visit can also contact the museum’s main number.