DREAMs Deferred

735 NW 18th Ave,
Portland, OR 97209

Image Credit: Steve Pavey, Hope In Focus

The Immigrant Story, in collaboration with eminent Portland photographer Jim Lommasson, is presenting “DREAMs Deferred.” Inspired by Langston Hughes’s poem “Harlem,” “DREAMs Deferred” examines the courageous lives of seven undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, sometimes unaccompanied by adults. Eleven years since Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was signed as an executive order, the recipients, mostly young people who have grown up in the United States and have no other home, are still living in limbo, with no path to permanent citizenship in the U.S. 

For the exhibition, The Immigrant Story produced short-form narrative accounts documenting both the obstacles confronting those who grow up undocumented in the United States and the inspiration and resilience those obstacles can cultivate. Profiles of these individuals and details regarding their journeys are accompanied by portraits in the hopes that the viewer will feel an immediate and personal connection with the subject.

In collaboration with The Immigrant Story, Lommasson extends his visual storytelling project, What We Carried, to include subjects who crossed the U.S. southern border — sometimes without proper official papers. Participants write directly on the photograph of an item they carried throughout their journey to the United States, allowing them to tell their own story in their own language and with their own hands about the most personal object in their possession during their journey.

The combination of the story, portrait, and treasured item from each individual allows viewers to look into that person’s eyes, read intimate details about their life, and see a deeply meaningful artifact in the person’s life history. The result is the recognition that behind the terms “undocumented immigrants” or “alien” lies an individual with a story.

DREAMs Deferred will run from July 19, 2023, through August 24, 2023, at PLACE, 735 NW 18th Ave, Portland, OR 97209.

The DREAMs Deferred exhibition is made possible by the generous contribution of the Zidell Family Foundation.