Between Cultures: Children of Immigrants in America

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Center for American Places, in association with, 2004 - Photography - 122 pages
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As the grandchild of Italian immigrants, photographer Gina J. Grillo has a personal impetus in her photographic studies of ethnic and immigrant life in the United States. In Between Cultures, Grillo explores the struggles immigrant children face as they develop their cultural identity in an environment completely new and foreign to them.

Following the tradition of the pioneering photographers Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine, Grillo portrays the immigrant experience through children's eyes, unearthing a complex and poignant world. She begins with images of newly arrived immigrant families at O'Hare International Airport during their first few hours in the United States, and then follows them through the gates and into Chicago's urban life: through her chronicle of citizenship ceremonies, cultural celebrations, weddings and dances, and other everyday scenes of immigrant life, Grillo captures the crucial elements that shape not only the characters of the children, but also the neighborhoods in which they reside.

For adults, emigration to America is filled with both hope and fear, yet it is tempered by a mature understanding. For children, however, this same journey unfolds in the unrelenting present as they must constantly negotiate their individual identities and allegiances to culture, country, and kin. With moving quotations and drawings by immigrant children woven into Grillo's visual sequence, Between Cultures is a unique meditation on the development of individual identity through the reconciliation of multiple cultural heritages.

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About the author (2004)

Gina J. Grillo teaches in the photography department at Columbia College, Chicago. Her work has been published in the Chicago Tribune, among other periodicals, and is represented in the collections of the University of Chicago, the Fanie Mae Foundation, and Albert and Tipper Gore, among others.
Leo Schelbert is professor of history, emeritus, at the University if Illinois at Chicago.

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