Students research and share their own family's migration stories after viewing Eliza Gregory's Testimony, where she invites individuals to tell their own migration stories through interviews, photographs, and objects, touching on family history, the immigration process, and adapting to a new culture.
Eliza Gregory introduces us to more than a dozen immigrants to San Francisco — from China, Germany, Guatemala, Iran, Korea, Mexico, Nepal, the Philippines, Russia and Vietnam — and asks, “What does it mean to belong?” She invited each individual to tell his or her own story through an interview touching on family history, the immigration process, and adapting to a new culture; a portrait photograph; and meaningful objects such as scrapbooks and family albums. Complex, multifaceted and sometimes unexpected, these stories hint at thousands of other untold tales, illuminating the lives of our neighbors, our families, ourselves.
"The name Testimony refers to people giving a formal account—in this case, of immigration to the United States, and specifically to the Bay Area. These accounts come in the form of verbal narratives, visual portraits, and the selection of objects and ephemera from each person’s life.
The people in these pictures have welcomed me into their homes to record them speaking about their lives and to make portraits of them. I want to say thank you to each of the people who contributed to this project by becoming a subject. That is a deeply generous act, and this generosity infuses the whole project. Thank you for being open, trusting, and willing to teach me.
Each testimony also offers some counterpoints to the contemporary, deeply troubled dialogue around immigration. When examined through the lens of individual experiences, so many of our policies seem not just bad, cruel, or inefficient but truly absurd. What seems clearest to me is that we need a new approach, a new angle, a new set of ideas with which to engage the issues raised by human movement among nations. We desperately need to start asking different questions. And listening to the answers."
- Eliza Gregory, 2018