Highlighting refugee and new immigrant traditional artists in Connecticut
New Lives/New England highlights refugee and new immigrant traditional artists now living in Connecticut, Vermont and Maine. The touring exhibit explored the role traditional arts play in helping newcomers create a new home in New England. The project (which took place during 2013-2014) also explored how teaching programs like the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program in each state, or artists’ gatherings like CCHAP’s Sewing Circle Project build pride and identity among community members and help to ensure that cultural knowledge and skills are passed on to the next generation.
By bringing the exhibit to each state, we hope to encourage other immigrant groups and their artists to join activities that support and sustain cultural traditions even as the newcomers work hard to connect with jobs and schools and social life in their new environments. The exhibit also provides an opportunity for the artists and communities to meet new audiences and share their stories and interests.
Three organizations collaborated to create the exhibit and associated artists’ gatherings: The Vermont Folklife Center, Cultural Resources of Maine, and Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program at the CMCH. New Lives/New England is supported through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Folk and Traditional Arts Program; Aurora Foundation for Women and Girls, Inc.; Connecticut Office of the Arts, Greater Hartford Arts Council, the Maine Community Foundation Expansion Arts Fund; and the Quimby Family Foundation. Special thanks to all our community collaborators in Connecticut, Vermont and Maine who inspire with their wisdom and dedication.