Folklife Center - Gallery

El Sueño de América / The Dream of America

Separation & Sacrifice in the Lives of North Country Latino Immigrants

February 27 to August 31, 2016

The Dream of America takes us from the milking parlors of surrounding counties to the cinder-block homes of Coyula, Guadalajara, Mexico, and back again. This straightforward perspective asks that we consider without bias or stereotype, the work being done, and the lives and sacrifices of the workers. Hard work and separation are underlying themes of these immigrants’ lives.

Featuring the photography and text of guest curator, Lisa Catalfamo-Flores.

Schedule of Free Presentations


After two years of photographing workers on local farms I traveled to Coyula to share these photographs with family members. Welcomed with tears and open arms, these visits are powerful testaments to the weight and toll long separations have on loved ones, both here and abroad. Most dramatic, a prevailing sadness over the disconnection from the daily lives and experiences between workers and their separated family members. In sharing stories with
loved ones, a fuller picture of the worker comes into focus. Individual talents, abilities, and desires become evident, leading us to a more complete and human point of view.

The symbols of art and culture represented throughout the exhibit are tangible examples, and an integral part of life in Coyula. The intersection of family, faith, celebration, artistic expression, and food, are central themes that inform and enrich lives on both sides of the border.

In poor communities across Latin America young people desperate for work take
a leap of faith and decide to make their way to the United States. The tale of Hispanic immigrants is a narrative that plays out in rural communities across the country, where common themes of separation, sacrifice, and struggle, punctuate a familiar storyline and weave a picture of today’s economic migrant.

For first-time migrants the vision of America is a dream. Each worker’s American
Dream is driven by the desire of providing for their families and achieving their own economic security in a new homeland. The hope of opportunity and economic gain is met with the reality of perilous journeys, grueling work, long hours, overwhelming isolation, and long separations from loved ones. Still, they come.

Against the backdrop of political debate and anti-immigrant rhetoric, this timely exhibit shines a light on workers, the work they do, the vibrant culture and people they left behind, the toll of their absence on family back home, and their impact on local communities.

This exhibition is guest curated by Lisa Catalfamo, produced by the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library, and funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts-Folk Arts Program with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Legislature.


Past Exhibitions