In the fall of 2012 Ashley, Sharon, and I went on a PhotoWalk in Mercer County Park with Alina. We have since become FaceBook friends. Through a FaceBook invitation I learned Alina was having an art exhibit at her alma mater, Mercer County Community College.
The exhibit is entitled "A Voyage of Many." It is the story of 45 people who have immigrated to the United States from Cuba. It is more than that, though. Alina did a fabulous job of choosing a representation of those who left their lives behind in Cuba to start anew in the United States. It began with a desire to capture the histories of those who came in the 1960s -- people now in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, and whose stories mostly remain unrecorded. She did so much more, though, through this exhibit. Each of the photographs are a work of art. By themselves they are engaging. It is easy to want to climb into her pictures as they have a 3-D feel to them.
In addition to the pictures, she included a quick blurb about their stories, and slightly longer versions on a piece of paper available for viewing in the room. Alina Bliach has plans to turn this exhibit into a book. She has a wish that her exhibit travels in order to spread the story of Cuban immigrants even further. It is for this reason I'll break my rule about not publishing last names and include hers so someone searching on her may find this rave review and want to show her art work.
Alina was born in Havana in 1960 and immigrated here with her family She understands first-hand the problems faced by new immigrants. She has captured their history through photographs and stories. She has turned her passion into something that will preserve history.
Don and I attended the opening for her exhibit. One of the real joys was seeing some of the 45 people captured in the images posing with their own photograph -- and smiling. Through this exhibit, she has captured much more than a quick moment in time, she has captured their feelings, something which is hard to capture in a photograph.
This exhibit only runs through June 24. It is much too short for such a powerful and engaging exhibit. If you live locally, I suggest you drive over to the campus and see it for yourself. Gaze into the eyes of the subjects. Take the time to read the captions by the photographs. Spend even more time reading their short biographies. Follow her photography on FaceBook to learn more about her book.
I often say everyone has a story. I'm glad she is capturing theirs. It is my hope to return to my idea for a business and join her in capturing more oral histories.