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On Wednesday, September 25th, the Immigrant Justice Committee of the Network for Social Justice (formerly the Winchester Multicultural Network) and the Griffin Museum of Photography co-sponsored “American Mosaic and Contemporary Immigration”at the Griffin Museum of Photography’s satellite gallery at WinCam. The exhibit featured the work of Denver-based photographer Melissa Lynn and served as an opportunity for beautiful art to spur discussions about diversity, immigration and multiculturalism.

Opening up the event, Liora Norwich, Executive Director of the Network for Social Justice, noted how the traditional concept of the “melting pot” was being replaced by that of a “beautiful mosaic” composed of “different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, and different dreams.” The core idea behind the Mosaic is that no one has to lose any part of their identity; rather, our identities can combine within society to create a greater whole.

Lynn described her series, entitled “American Mosaic,” as one that “celebrates America’s rich multicultural heritage and traditions.” Surrounded by her lush portraits of Americans proudly wearing their own traditional dress, she described the five-year, on-going project as “a labor of love to portray the beauty in diversity, and how this diversity enriches, not threatens, a country. ”

Lynn met each of the portrait subjects at cultural festivals in her home state of Colorado and photographed them on location. In the post-processing, she hand-colored in a tintype background– the type of photography used throughout the 19th century–which lends an old-fashioned look to her portraits. “There is so much beauty in them and their traditions–I hope that’s what shines through.”
The rich discussion during the event fulfilled Norwich’s suggestion that “art provides us with an opportunity to step back and reflect on issues of identity and belonging that with the current news cycle have been hard to disentangle as charged and heated topics.”)

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