By: Savannah Willits
The Student Union Fine Arts Gallery’s latest exhibition, titled “Inner Strength: Portraits of Basque Immigrant Women,” features work by photographer Peter Oberlindacher and interviewer Begona Pecharroman. The exhibit will be open to the public until April 9 in the Student Union Gallery, which is located on the second floor of the Student Union Building.
The exhibit displays black and white portraits and stories of 41 Basque women who immigrated to America during their lifetime. Side by side, the pictures and excerpts from Pecharroman’s interviews provide background information, such as the women’s names, when and why these they immigrated and memorable events they experienced along the way.
“My goal was to capture the impressions that these Basque immigrant women left with me: determination, graciousness, enthusiasm, and pride. Most of all, I wanted to show their inner strength,” Oberlindacher said.
According to Fonda Portales, University art curator and collections manager, the exhibit is a celebration of the Eloise Garmendia Bieter Chair in Basque Studies “which is itself at an intersection of diverse campus and community experiences.”
“The show centers on the tenacity and courage of these women as they emigrate to another country and learn new customs while still preserving their cultural heritage,” Portales said. “It centers on their hard work, both physical and emotional work, to create fruitful lives here.”
Portales also commented that the exhibit complemented Women’s History month “beautifully.”
Pecharroman’s journey to record the stories of Basque women began around kitchen tables with a borrowed tape recorder and blank cassettes. During each of these interviews, the themes of immigration and integration into American society, as well as survival, hard work, war and the significance of home are explored.
In her artist statement, Pecharroman said “I just hope that by looking at their photographs and reading about some of their experience, each of you may also get a glimpse into their wonderful immigrant story.”