“Home yet?” is a photo series centered around Russian-speaking immigrants in the United States. Through the experience of a minority group, the photo series paints a picture of a cathartic, at times traumatic, but also revitalizing experience of leaving one's community and culture. The project is an anthropological exploration of the subjects' desires, struggles, regrets, memories left behind, aspirations abandoned, and dreams fulfilled.
What pushed you to leave? What do you miss the most? How did your values change, and did you adopt any American ones? What are some of the cultural values you struggle to understand? What was the biggest challenge for you after immigrating? Where do you consider home? These are some of the questions that came up.
The project strives to build a platform for immigrants' voices and provide a sense of relief for those who share their experiences. It also strives to foster understanding and raise awareness in those who encounter the work. Themes explored through the photo series are relevant to broader communities and groups.
Lastly, the project is the Artist’s attempt to understand her own identity, connect to a larger community, and, most importantly, an attempt to bridge the divided political discourse in the United States around immigration and it's cultural and socio-economic benefits.
Natalia. Business Owner
American mothers cheer enthusiastically for their child's crumbly sandcastle. A Russian mother would say: “No this is not good enough, that's not the way we do it”. Everyone had to be like everyone else. They even made left-handed children hold a pen in their right hand. Do you see? All this is taking away the freedom from a person to be themselves. People develop very low self-esteem.
When a person like that comes to the Unites States, they experience cultural shock. It took me thirty years to finally become comfortable with other Russian-Americans, Americans, and myself.
My home is here! In Cranston. This is my family. This is my country. All my friends are here. I don’t miss anything, not even the slightest bit.
I was just thrown into the mix. Everybody already knew everything and everyone, but I was the odd-man-out. I was in 5th grade when we moved to States from Uzbekistan. I coudn't say a word in English. People immediately concluded I was anti-social. That trauma absorbed into me. I don't think I have the same opportunities as a person who's parents grew up here. My parents dont understand the system, so I have to go the extra mile to figure it out by myself.
I can't really say I have a home. To me a home is somewhere I feel safe and it's permanent. Right now I don't have that physical space, but my relationship makes me feel safe and at home.
Natalia. Employee of a Russian Store
We couldn’t stay in Estonia no more because my daughter has Williams syndrome. All facilities for people with special needs closed up. There were no opportunities. No jobs. All the factories closed. In ex-soviet republics these disabled kids, you know, they have no future. And so when I was 42 years old, we moved with my family to America. Teachers nurtured her and brought her up. Here my daughter went to school, and now she has a job.
My house is here. I feel at home and at peace. When I come back to Estonia, I feel like a visitor. Here I have a family, a wonderful backyard, a job. It's not much, but I earned it. You know, here its calmer. It's safer. Actually, today is a special day for me. My granddaughter was born! I became a babushka.
Raisa. Employee of a clothing store
There is an expression in Russian "хорошо там, где нас нет" (the grass is greener on the other side). And of course, it is easier to admire things at a distance. I moved around a lot and even lived in Syria for a little bit. But I miss Russia, I truly do. I miss my school uniform with its stunning white bows. I miss putting on a pair of sweatpants and running out into the boundless golden fields. But none of that remained. It's just a faded memory.
*other images availble*
If interested in participating in exhibiting or participating in this project, reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org