Out of Many – Stories of Migration

Funding for Out Of Many is generously provided by: Opportunity Fund; Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation; The Fisher Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation; Hillman Foundation; and The Heinz Endowments.

Exhibition Dates: Opening 2/25/2022

Location: Nicholas Gallery

We all come from somewhere.

Whether in our own lifetime, or that of our ancestors, we come under a variety of circumstances; we bring with us different names, foods, and customs; we come alone, and with our families.  We come because we want to, because we have to, and because we have no choice.  Our paths are interwoven: each individual’s journey becomes a part of the culture we share. In learning each other’s stories we develop a sense of belonging, and responsibility, to something larger than what we knew before.

Out of Many began as many projects of The Documentary Works do, with conversations about things we value, and about which we are concerned.  Migration is something that affects us all, and which is at the essence of what makes this country what it is.  We wanted to contribute to the conversation about where we all come from, in a positive and respectful way.

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, 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.

Curated by Laura Domencic and Brian Cohen, 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, features essays by Public Radio journalists Erika Beras and Reid Frazier.  Working with the premise that “we all come from somewhere,” the group explores the central role that migration has played, and continues 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.

Contributing photographers

Annie O’Neill

Annie O’Neill’s large-scale double-portraits pair up long-term immigrants with new arrivals to America.  One has been here at least twice as long as the other; neither has met each other until introduced by O’Neill.  After interviewing them separately, O’Neill matches them so that they each have something, beyond their status as immigrants, in common.  The results provide moving testimonial to their shared experiences living an adopted country.

Lynn Johnson

Lynn Johnson is documenting the moment at which immigrants become citizens, at naturalization ceremonies. Through her images, Johnson describes a Pittsburgh that considers itself a community, but within which there are those who began life on other shores. Her images, beginning with the documentation of a naturalization ceremony, and continuing with portraits of new citizens, represent an effort to see, and thereby to come to know, our newest citizens.

Scott Goldsmith

Scott Goldsmith’s documentary photographs introduces us to the experiences of newly-arrived Bhutanese refugees as they make their home in Pittsburgh.  Goldsmith coordinated with the Northern Area Multi-Service Center, “NAMS,” to meet a family of 3 refugees from Bhutan, from the moment they entered the U.S. at the Pittsburgh Airport.  He looks at the struggles and obstacles they encounter as they navigate through their first days and weeks in a completely new environment. 

Brian Cohen

Brian Cohen’s photographs highlight the diversity of the region’s migrant and immigrant communities through the buildings they have created and occupied over the past century in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  Individually, each building represents in part a community’s effort to assert its adopted American identity, while retaining its particular sense of self, be it racial, religious, ethnic, or otherwise. Within these ethnic social clubs, civic and community centers, groceries, and religious temples, immigrant communities have matured and become – or are becoming – Americans.

Nate Guidry

Nate Guidry’s documentary images focus on the Latino community, through the story of a Mexican single father of two, in the Brookline neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  As Guidry describes him, his subject is a humble man of modest means whose singular focus is providing for his two daughters. “I only want what best for my babies,” he says.  Guidry documents his sacrifices, and the tender-hearted moments he shares with his girls, ages 7 and 9.