Ebenezer Akakpo is a jeweler and fine metalworker, originally from Ghana, now resides in South Portland. He incorporates indigenous designs and symbols into his work.

UMVA Gallery at CTN (Portland Media Center)

In April the Union of Maine Visual Artists Portland Chapter will open its Gallery to the creative voices of more than a dozen immigrant artists living in greater Portland.

These artists have collaborated with curators Kifah Abdulla (poet and painter from Iraq), Titi De Baccarat (sculptor and painter from Gabon) and John Ripton (photographer, writer and historian) to create work that reflects the essence of their experience as immigrants to Maine.

Each invited artist – painter, sculptor, photographer, poet and performance artist – will express a moment in their migration experience that fundamentally changed their lives. Their work will be exhibited in the UMVA Gallery at CTN throughout the month of April.

Titi de Baccarat, Black, White and Yellow painting, with shoe

Greater Portland is home to thousands of immigrants whose life stories demonstrate the will to overcome lack of opportunity and education, political repression and violence and poverty.  Some immigrants are fortunate to have escaped such violations of human rights and their work will be represented in the exhibit. The artists’ collective stories, whether here with documents or without, is the continuing story of the United States.

As with earlier immigrants, the newer immigrants are building their lives here and revitalizing Portland, its economy and its culture. The artists will share their desires and dreams as well as their reflections on how they arrived in Maine and the challenges they continue to face. The exhibition of their work will speak directly to the world in which we live.

Kifah Abdulla. Peace

The artists and curators conceive this exhibit as a timely and essential project. In a time when differences among peoples are being exploited at the highest levels of government, this creative project strives to cross the borders and walls separating people.

The artists and curators intend, to emphasize our common humanity. In this effort they plan to reach out to Portland area schools, colleges and universities to offer the exhibit for display, to allow teachers the opportunity to bring the art and stories into their classes.

The Opening of the exhibit will be on First Friday’s Art Walk on April 6th (5-8 p.m.) at the UMVA Gallery at 516 Congress Street in Portland. It will feature poets, dancers, drummers and other performance artists. It promises to be a celebration of Greater Portland’s immigrant communities, an exciting opportunity to reaffirm the enduring struggle to share this world and this city with each other.
The public is enthusiastically welcome.