AMERICA IS... MADE UP OF IMMIGRANTS

By Mara Siregar

Period 1 | Semester 2 Project

Thesis

According to Websters Dictionary, an immigrant is "one that immigrates: such as a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence." America has a long history of immigrants; from the moment that this country was discovered by Christopher Columbus, the time of slavery, the Irish Famine and much more. With Donald Trump currently in office as the President of the United States, he claims that illegal immigrants are bringing our country down. Which results in citizens of America forgetting that our nation was founded on immigrants.

Christopher Columbus

Columbus Day is about celebrating the Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, and his glory. However, Columbus was an Italian immigrant who was hired by Spain to find riches in India but somehow managed to end up in America. By the time Columbus "discovered" America in 1942, millions of Native Americans had already been living in America. Many Americans think of Columbus as a national icon yet numerous tribes were brutally killed under his orders. He was responsible for the enslavement of hundreds of Native Americans. Copious amounts of Native Americans were wiped out due to the diseases they contracted from the Europeans. President Donald Trump claims that illegal immigrants are bringing our country down, wasting resources, and taking our jobs. However, it is important to remember that our nation was founded on immigrants.

Source: www.attn.com/stories/3560/columbus-day-illegal-immigration

the land of opportunity

From the outside looking in, America is perceived as the Land of Opportunity. Millions of people leave their home country for a new start in our country for the past 400 years. For centuries, people have immigrated to our country due to reasons such as escaping war, the freedom to practice the religion of their choice, the opportunity to to own land, escape poverty, and much more. During the 1840s through 1850s the potato famine caused approximately 20% of Ireland's population to immigrate to the United States. Immigrants also came from China at a time where China was experiencing starvation and droughts. The Chinese immigrants built the railroads that run across the nation. The industrial revolution also attracted numerous amounts of immigrants due to an uprise in businesses within the United States. These businesses needed more workers and soon enough, immigrants and migrants filled the labor demands that transformed the nation.

Source: www.gilderman.org/history-by-era/immigration-and-migration

a day without immigrants

Thursday, February 16, 2017 was when a protest titled A Day Without Immigrants took place. The protest was a response to President Trump's immigration agenda to demonstrate the importance of immigration. The strike called for immigrants not to attend work, to avoid spending money, and to keep their children from attending school. Various companies from different industries participated. Copious amounts of businesses felt the impact of losing immigrant workers for the day. However, it seemed to have affected the restaurant industry the most. In 2015, 7.1 million of the workers in restaurants were immigrants. According to the National Restaurant Association, 14.4 million people work in the restaurant industry and 23% of them are foreign born. Which results in restaurants to be second when it comes to relying on undocumented workers.

Source: www.cnn.com/2017/02/16/us/day-without-immigrants-vignettes

VISUALS AND SYMBOLISM

AMERICA IS MADE UP OF IMMIGRANTS

From left to right: An America that consists of immigrants & an America that does not consist of immigrants

For the visual piece of the project, I decided to demonstrate two different Americas by taking two canvases and illustrating one that consists of immigrants and one that does not.

An america that consists of immigrants

The American Flag | Freedom & The Land of Opportunity

For the canvas that demonstrates an America that consists of immigrants, I decided to paint an outline of our country and paint the American flag within the lines. To many throughout the nation, our Flag symbolizes freedom. In this case it does too symbolize freedom and it also stands for the Land of Opportunities due to the fact that many immigrants find themselves making their way into the country for reasons such as escaping war, the freedom to practice the religion of their choice, the opportunity to to own land, escape poverty, and much more. The America that is currently demonstrated through the visual is not much different from the current America that could be seen within today's modern society. The United States remains an immigrant nation, in spirit as well as in fact. Those who immigrate into the country want America to be their home, not just their residence. Each and every immigrant has their own story as to why they decided to come to the United States however one thing that unites citizens and immigrants is the desire to be an American.

AN AMERICA THAT DOES NOT CONSIST OF IMMIGRANTS

Native Land | "America" before Columbus's big " discovery"

For the canvas that is supposed to demonstrate an America that does not consist of immigrants, I decided to paint an outline of the country however, instead of painting an American flag, I filled the country in with a plain color to symbolize the land prior to Columbus's big discovery which is also known as the Pre- Colombian era. Since Columbus was originally supposed to find riches in India but somehow stumbled across America, he is considered an immigrant.

AN AMERICA THAT CONSISTS OF IMMIGRANTS

Lights | A Brighter Future

When it comes to the canvas for an America that consists of immigrants, I decided to include lights to symbolize a brighter future that the United States has with immigrants in the picture. Today in modern day society, immigrants have been receiving negative attention due to the current President of the United States Donald Trump. He has brilliantly played into the fears of white middle America. However, America needs immigration. Immigrants are good for the economy; while it is good for the economy as a whole it may not be good for everyone because it may result in more competition. Generally speaking Immigrants do not make America better off. They make simply America better. Immigrants within the United States are beneficial for a brighter future. Then again, "an America that closes its doors will be an America that has chosen to settle down rather than grow."

An america that does not consist of immigrants

Paper Tents & Native American Figures | Homes of the Natives

When it came to the canvas for an America that does not consist of immigrants, I wanted to focus and emphasize life prior to Christopher Columbus. The paper tents symbolize a fraction of the Native homes that have been lost due to the copious amounts of Native Americans were wiped out due to the diseases they contracted from the Europeans. The Native American figures symbolize, well, the Native Americans. Millions of Native Americans had already been living in America by the time Columbus had "discovered" it. Numerous tribes were brutally killed under his orders & he was responsible for the enslavement of hundreds of Native Americans. The figures and tents demonstrate what "Abya Yala" (what the native Americans called the Kuna people referred to the pre-Colombian America as) would have been like if Columbus never immigrated to the country.

Credits:

Created with images by skeeze - "new york city 1890 vintage" • werner22brigitte - "liberty statue freiheits statue new york"

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