Photographs and Stories of Refugee Women artist statement

During the years 1998-2004, I worked as an ESL (English as a Second Language) instructor in a nursing assistant training program for new Americans in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was there that I began my relationship with the five women whom I photographed for this project.

All five women are currently working in the health care field and came to the U.S. not because they wanted to, but because they had no choice - four are refugees and one is an asylee. They fled their countries due to war as well as political and religious persecution. Now they are facing new challenges of integration into American culture.

I am hopeful that you will see these women as mothers, sisters, classmates, co-workers, neighbors, and fellow citizens who are contributing to the fabric of American society.

Acknowledgements -

This project is dedicated to my father, Reverend Ronald Koch (1939 - 2004).

Thanks to...Dan Kramer, Daniel Kenewa, Merle Greene, Heidi Madsen, Katie Holm, Sharon Lyon, Joel Haskard, Robbie Hamblen, Michelle Gillman, Ellen Isaacs, Colleen Convey, Angie Bengtson, Stan Oslund, Brady Kiernan, and the volunteers, staff and Board of Directors at the IFP Minnesota Center for Media Arts.

Special thanks to...the five women and their families who lent me their time, their stories, and their hearts: Perseverance, Dignity, Strength, Hope, and Peace.

This project was supported in part by an Access Grant from IFP Minnesota Center for Media Arts. The original body of work included five biographies and fifteen hand-printed fiber prints with accompanying quotes. The project, in its entirety, was donated to the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota on August 5, 2010.