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Zinel_Joe_CarryOn Homes.HEIC

Stories of Immigration

Zoe Cinel and Peng Wu - Interdisciplinary Artists
Shun Yong - Photography

Project Statement:  This series is a collection of stories and portraits of migrants and immigrants from Iraq and Afghanistan who now call Minnesota their home. The series is part of an ongoing project started in 2017 by photographer Shun Jie Yong and social practice artist Peng Wu under the name of CarryOn Homes. CarryOn Homes members working on this project are Peng Wu and Zoe Cinel.  After endeavors in the public art and curatorial field, including a Creative City Challenge Award in 2018 for the public platform CarryOn Homes at the Commons, and a curated traveling  exhibition Home of Memories: Portraits of Iraqi Americans by Iraqi American Photographers, the CarryOn Homes team went back to its roots and decided to expand on the original photography and storytelling project with new portraits and interviews of recent (and non recent) refugees and immigrants. The interviewees were asked to bring to the interview an object they carried from their home countries to the US, tell the story of this precious object and ultimately share their unique, yet universally relatable experience with migrating, relocation and building a sense of belonging in a new place.

Building upon a four-years long relationship with the Iraqi American Reconciliation Project (IARP) and a more recent connection with the Winona Afghan Support Network (WASN), we focused on the stories of refugees and immigrants from Iraq and Afghanistan, who relocated searching for stability and a peaceful life. From these conversations we learned that the migration of Afghani and Iraqi refugees to the US has specific political and humanitarian implications that add layers of complexity to the already dense immigrant experience. What is the relationship between the place where one migrates from and the place where one migrates to? How long does it take to build a home and a sense of belonging? What parts of the immigrant experience are enriching and what are the challenges immigrants face during their journey of relocation? As immigrants we listen, learn and lean on each other. When listening to the interviews, we hope that recent immigrants can find hope and resonance.


CarryOn Homes is deeply thankful to the people who shared their stories with us in a trusting and vulnerable way: Mariam Abdulkareem, Shaymaa Khalil, Essma Imady.

Background - CarryOn Homes:  CarryOn Homes is an artist collective comprised of immigrants and dedicated to telling the stories of immigrants and refugees in the USA through art. By using a variety of media and platforms, COH engages the public in cross-cultural dialogue and creates spaces for immigrants to feel a sense of belonging and empowerment. Current members: Shun Jie Yong, Peng Wu, Zoe Cinel. Former members: Aki Shibata and Preston Drum (2017-2020).

Artist Bio - Zoe Cinel:  Zoe is an interdisciplinary artist and curator from Italy whose work builds community around human experiences that are isolating and complex to navigate, such as immigration and chronic pain. Starting from her own journey as a patient and a migrant and collaborating with artists or with specialists in fields such as medicine and urban design, Zoe’s work’s ultimate goal is to connect and produce social change. Her artistic and curatorial work has been exhibited in institutions such as the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Gordon Parks Gallery at Metropolitan State University, St Paul and the Rochester Art Center. She has worked on commissioned public art projects for the City of Minneapolis, DMC Rochester and Mayo Clinic.

Artist Bio - Peng Wu:  Born and raised in China, Peng Wu is an interdisciplinary artist and designer dedicated to creating socially engaged art in public spaces. His work combines the power of design thinking with contemporary art strategies to address various urgent social issues including immigration, public health, queer rights, etc. Through collaborating across disciplines and cultures, he has created participatory art installations exhibited in art institutions such as Weisman Art Museum, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Institute of Art, as well as numerous public spaces and community centers.

Artist Bio - Shun Yong:  Yong is a fine art photographer and multidisciplinary artist. A fear of loss, generational trauma, and curiosity motivate him to make photographs. Yong’s Occupation series investigates his identity as a second-generation Chinese immigrant in Malaysia as well as a new immigrant to the U.S. Producing the Occupation series has not only helped him achieve a sense of belonging in both places, but also allows him to connect with family and strangers alike. Yong’s C-H-F investigates what motivates Asian climbers to take part in what is considered a “White” sport. He is also the co-founder of CarryOn Homes, a collaborative dedicated to telling the stories of immigrants and refugees in the US through art. By engaging the public in cross-cultural dialogue, CarryOn Homes creates spaces for immigrants and marginalized communities to feel a sense of belonging and empowerment.

To listen to the interviews, please click below:

To learn more about CarryOn Homes, go to:

To learn more about Zoe Cinel's work, go to:

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The installation of 'TO YOUR RAISED HEAD' will be on display

on the South facing wall of Second Shift Studio Space:

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