Sara Friedlander: Birds of Im/Migration

Exhibit Dates: 
Tuesday, Mar. 7 to Saturday, Apr. 1
Artist Reception: 
Friday, Mar. 10 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm
2nd Saturday Opening: 
Saturday, Mar. 11 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Sara Friedlander has created a series of three-dimensional mixed media visual narratives to honor courageous women, who left their homeland and their families, often under great duress, and traveled to America to start a new life. Most of them spoke no English; holding steadfast to their hopes for a brighter future, they faced daunting challenges in order to establish themselves in this new world. She has collected vintage portraits as well as images in the public domain (taken either in photographic studios or on the street during the first quarter of the 1900's) and then, using Photoshop, digitally combined them with her own photographs (landscapes, birds, trees, architecture) and tied them together with paint.

Sara explains, “I began with photographs of my maternal grandmother, Masha Bornstein, who in 1908 at the age of 15 left her family behind in Petrikov, Belarus and traveled alone in steerage to Boston. She soon made her way to Providence, Rhode Island to begin anew. She was an accomplished seamstress who designed and made all the clothes in the photographs you see of her. Warmth and integrity emanate from her face. I’m told that she worked in and then ran a small sewing shop. After marrying, she and my grandfather sent for her mother and three siblings to join them. She died before I was two and by creating this piece, I feel more connected to her life and my own history.”

Each of Sara Friedlander’s mixed media panels highlights the journey of an im/Migrant woman. “By utilizing visual storytelling to represent a universal tale, I created a narrative based on what I gleaned from the photo and what I saw in the eyes of each of these women. The result is analogous to creative nonfiction—neither pure fact nor pure fiction.”

“It has been a delightful journey for me so far. I invite you to let your imagination wander into each portrait as well.” Sara hopes to expand this project by depicting many more nationalities.” At this critical time, when immigration is seen as a national and global threat throughout the world, these portraits can help us remember and reflect deeply on the reality that most Americans, most of us, are relatively recent descendants of immigrants ourselves.”

You can see more of Sara's work online at and on her website:



© Sara Friedlander


© Sara Friedlander


© Sara Friedlander



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Viewpoint Photographic Art Center is the proud recipient of a SMAC Cultural Arts Award grant.

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