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'Transplant Eyes' Exhibit Explores What It Means To Be An American

In these heightened political times, how you define yourself as an American is an important and fundamental question. Artists are always responding to difficult questions like this, and a new exhibit at the Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, Transplant Eyes, presents some answers.

The mixed-media show, featuring work from nine U.S.-based artists who were not born in this country, addresses this question: What does it mean to be an American? The exhibit runs through July 8 and is free to the public. 

The idea for the exhibit started with the title, Kat Amjadi explains. Amjadi is one of the curators of the exhibit, along with John Schuerman. 

Credit Edyn Herbert
(From left to right) Bonnie North in conversation with John Schuerman, Howard Leu, and Kat Amjadi.

"I called John and told him that somebody called me 'transplant,' and how that made me, sort of [feel] awkward," she explains. "Like, am I an organ to a new society? And we were talking about that and I was kind of frustrated, he was telling me it's a term that's commonly used, especially in the business world." That frustration became the seed for the exhibit. 

Although the concept for the exhibit came long before the 2016 election results, both curators agree that it brought renewed importance to the pieces on display. 

"It really seems to be on people's minds," Schuerman says. "It's in the air, it's socially relevant. It was before the election and now it is even more so. And I think that it's a way to start conversations and it's a way to bring more people into thinking about this and they can access it from the very different perspectives and aesthetics that the artists bring to the show." 

For Amjadi, the exhibit holds special significance. "Being from Iran, it already brings out loaded political tension between U.S. and Iran. So already you're marked as, you know, whatever people hear from media. So the interactions with new people... it's either friendly, they want to know the truth and go beyond what is heard on media, or it's suspicious." 

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.