Out of Many: Stories of Migration

Out of Many: Stories of Migration is a series of exhibits, events and conversations centering around the work of five photographers working out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The project features the faces and experiences of multiple generations of migrants and immigrants in America, and their descendants.  With original, contemporary photography and essays, Out of Many uses Pittsburgh’s story as a lens through which to examine the broader American immigration and migration experience.  As the project travels, we will employ interactive media to engage local audiences, who will be able to incorporate their own family's stories of migration and immigration into the overall narrative; and additionally, we will create local content to reflect local and regional aspects of the American migration and immigration experience.

The project highlights the photography of Brian Cohen, Scott Goldsmith, Nate Guidry, Lynn Johnson and Annie O’Neill.  A book of the photography, designed by Brett Yasko, which features essays by Public Radio journalists Erika Beras and Reid Frazier, will be released in January 2018.  Working with the premise that “we all come from somewhere,” the group explores the central role that immigration and migration have played, and continue to play, in the formation of our identity and culture, and in sustaining our economy – and in so doing, aims to create a space for civil, constructive conversation about belonging and cultural heritage today.


For more information or to schedule a booking, contact: Brian Cohen, http://www.thedocumentaryworks.org/contact/ .

Naturalization ceremonies

October 25 and November 15, 2017

USCIS Office in Penn Center, Monroeville, PA

The setting is sterile—plastic folding chairs with numbers on them, a podium, several large TV screens and, of course, an American flag. But the ceremony is emotional for all who gather here. Becoming a citizen of the U.S. is an expensive and time-consuming enterprise. For some, it takes many years, for others, many miles traveled and reams of paperwork. For all, it is a life passage.


Tears are shed in joy and relief. In several cases, the new citizen suffers from dementia; one might wonder if they really understand what is happening, until you see that tear slide down. Families, some in traditional attire, gather around, helping their elders raise their hands in pledge at the right moment, supporting each other. They even watch respectfully as a video message of welcome from President Trump is played. The irony is not lost on them. They have come too far—through violence, refugee camps, convincing employers to support them, saving scarce money for lawyers’ fees, the love of sponsors—to make a sound.

Naturalization ceremonies

August 18 and November 17, 2017

Federal Courthouse, Pittsburgh, PA

It is common in this courtroom for the gavel sound to decree guilt for the accused. But on this day, there is joy. New citizens from multiple nations raise their hands in pledge to America, now their one and only sovereign nation. They are from virtually every continent of the world having escaped brutality, poverty, no possibility of education. They have come to this country for all the reasons that we, who live here, too often take for granted—freedom of religion, the ability to speak our hearts and minds, access to education and, always, the hope that hard work will be the path to prosperity. But for those who have been forced to cross many borders on the way to this day, it is the gift of finally being able to call a place home that makes this courtroom a haven, a place of celebration.