Crossing the BLVD is a powerful social record… Most of the subjects live in Queens, but their stories resonate far beyond the borders of this multicultural New York borough. What often gets lost in the national debate on immigration is the human dimension, an under-standing of the lives of those people who give up everything to come here. Crossing the BLVD lets them tell their stories… We see the subjects’ faces in the photographs, hear their voices, and enter into their lives through cherished mementos they have carried from home to home… The exhibition also includes a mobile story booth, which enables visitors to enter and record their own stories of migration, or those of parents and grandparents. Once the images and stories have been uploaded onto the Web, they become part of an online archive of immigration stories attached to the exhibition as it continues from place to place around the country… Extraordinary People, extraodinary lives… A living work of art.” The New York Times Benjamin Genocchio

“One of the most engaging photography shows to visit Rochester in years… Both book and exhibition are an innovative patchwork of photo portraits, startling life histories and flamboyant layouts… From 1999 to 2002, they [Lehrer and Sloan] toured a world in miniature exploring their own borough’s housing projects, schools and community centers. They found political refugees who survived torture, a Nigerian prophetess ordered by God to visit America, and a philosophical Hindu driver who made his taxi a sacred space—among other remarkable stories.”
Democrat and Chronicle Stuart Low

Crossing the BLVD: strangers, neighbors, aliens in a new America—a multi-media installation of photography, text, and sounds is an   is more akin to watching a movie, because the narratives take time to unfold, and there is an inherent drama in the real life personal accounts… Crossing the BLVD offers an object lesson in the new aesthetic—how it looks, how it generates its meanings—as well as a window on the lives of people who, mostly unnoticed by the rest of us, are steadily enlarging the concept of what it means to be an American.” 
The Baltimore Sun Glenn McNatt

“Based on the 2003 book of the same title, this exhibit shares stories and images of men and women who came to the United Sates after the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments…. The exhibit is full of stories of heartbreak and hope, told by immigrants in their own words through text and audio, accompanied by bold, color portraits taken by Lehrer… When you cross the BLVD, you’ll meet men who left their families behind for their beliefs and lawyers who now deliver food. You’ll hear prayer and song, words and wisdom. You’ll see an Egyptian man who spent seven years turning his restaurant into a mosaic-encrusted work of art. You’ll meet a woman from Tajikistan so renowned for her dancing that her image was woven into tapestries, printed on posters and glazed on ceramic urns and plates. She now runs a dance studio that can only be accessed through a subway station… An unbelievable journey…” 
Bangor Daily News Kristen Andresen

Crossing the BLVD is spectacular in its commitment to documenting the artists’ exploration of their own neighborhood… with exquisitely detailed portraits of the people who live around them… The experience of wandering through this exhibit was astonishingly rich. Of the highest technical quality, it can also be so intimate it almost has a smell. The artistic expertise displayed in the deft oral-history gathering, the jewel-like photography and the immaculate sound work can lead directly to a tender familiarity with each of the people wrapped in the heart of this work… One imagines that Queens is now full of celebrities thanks to Lehrer and Sloan.”
commmunityarts.net Linda Frye Burnham

“In their extraordinary attempt to document ‘signs of migratory life’ …[Lehrer and Sloan] undertook the impossible task of telling the story of modern-day Queens while providing a window into the geopolitical and cultural history of the postcolonial world. Undeterred, they succeed because they focus on 79 powerful individual stories that deserve telling… The stories selected counter a prevailing trend toward oversimplification of American demographics and cultural history. Crossing the BLVD is an important project encouraging people to listen attentively to rarely heard stories.” 
The Next American City Anika Singh

“In Lehrer’s and Sloan’s Crossing the BLVD, the role of oral narratives defy the caricature of migrant ethnicity perpetuated in popular culture… Lehrer and Sloan juxtapose the lived complexity of the New York neighborhood of Queens: the ways in which various (new and old) immigrant communities coexist, and how they encounter the “mainstream” and vice versa… Where the cabdriver in [an episode of the German detective series] Stubbe sees only the Indian driver’s imbecility, Sushil Rao’s narrative in Crossing the BLVD reflects the taxi driver observing his customer. Where the camera’s gaze sees an Indian taxi driver “illiterate” in the ways of an increasingly transnational world and world economy, oral narratives such as Rao’s restore the immigrant’s lived presence and the multi-facetedness of his life. Where Stubbe insists on the one-sided nature of the gaze—the elderly white lady glancing at the foreign driver, Lehrer and Sloan’s setting of Rao’s words shows us that the gaze is far from unreturned. Where in Stubbe, the lady provides her disinterested taxi driver with a history lesson, Rao’s narrative assures us that the conversation is always mutual, and, if anything, the narrative situation may be differently one-sided. Rao’s biography is the very idea that the Stubbe episode rules out: the idea that the man who drives the taxi may in fact be a poet…”
The IntraNation Project, Emily Carr Institute, Mita Banerjee, Ph.D.

The Crossing the BLVD traveling exhibition of photographs, sounds, and stories uses the tools of contemporary art to create a multimedia experience reflecting the changing face of America. 90 photographic portraits by Warren Lehrer portray the pride, beauty, struggle and colorful humanity of individuals who have crossed through war zones, borders, oceans, and cultural divides. Portraits are paired with short narrative excerpts of the subject’s monologues; contextual maps of the country or countries of origin overlaid with maps of Queens neighborhoods; panoramic landscapes of neighborhoods and images of important objects that Crossing participants carried from home to home. Audio sound stations produced by Sloan enable visitors to hear the voices, sounds and music of those portrayed in the exhibition. An ambient soundscape of people praying, voices on the streets, found and composed music, bring visitors into this crossroad of the world upon entering the exhibition. The Crossing the BLVD Mobile Story Booth invites exhibition visitors to contribute their photographs and their own (or their parent’s or grandparent’s) migration stories to the Crossing the BLVD online collection of first-person narratives recounting immigration experiences of Americans. The exhibition premiered at the Queens Museum of Art in 2004 and has traveled to 15 locations in the United States including The Maryland Institute College of Art,  The Hudson Museum in Orono Maine, Weber State University in Utah, and in 2011, the exhibition traveled to Ohio State University, and Rutgers, New Jersey and Tyler Art Gallery at SUNY Oswego.

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Watch the Video Trailer Here

Crossing the BLVD traveling museum exhibition from EarSay Inc on Vimeo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creating Dialogue Across United States The Crossing the BLVD exhibition has traveled to universities and museums throughout the United States, opening up dialogues across cultural boundaries through public events, panel discussions, lectures, and worksops. Themes and topics have included: • Immigration: Old and New • Impact of Post 9/11 Laws • Refugee and Human Rights • Cross-Cultural and Cross-Religious Dialogues/ Race and Immigration • U.S. Foreign Policy, War/Peace and Immigration • Art and Social Change The Crossing the BLVD exhibition provides an opportunity for collaboration with Universities, and local community organizations in the following areas: • Political Science, Anthropology, Sociology, Religion, Oral History • Asian Pacific American, Middle Eastern, Latino/a, Caribbean, Africana Studies • American/Ethnic/Cultural Studies • Performance/Media/Communication Studies • Photography/Visual Arts/Artist Books • Graphic Design/Music and Sound/Documentary

 

 

 

 

 

Warren Lehrer leads a workshop for design students who have created their own companion exhibition in conjunction with the Crossing the BLVD exhibition at Weber State University in Utah. The exhibition provides a template for students to do their own visual art, audio, and oral history projects on new immigrants and refugees.

 

 


 

 

 

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A Life in Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley

A Life in Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley, traveling exhibition is a companion to the upcoming book by Warren Lehrer. The exhibition will include all the cover designs of Bleu Mobley’s 101+ books and their (first edition) catalogue copy. It will also include “reproductions” of Mobley’s book objects including the illuminated book lamps, the book toys, the book clothing and accessories, and the Flying Book Project. There will also be some sound stations with recordings of Lehrer and others reciting/performing some book excerpts and some of Mobley’s reluctant yet revealing memoir. And of course, copies of the book will also be on display. This exhibition is designed travel easily and inexpensively. It fits into one or two boxes, ships at a reasonable cost, and is relatively easy to install. The art and text panels will be archival inkjet prints mounted onto acid-free foamcore or sintra board, with velcro backing. The exhibition is ideal for university galleries and museums, art, design, and literary centers, and bookstores. This funny, thought-provoking and beautiful exhibition experience tells the story of a [fictional] writer/artist through a chronological overview of his life’s work. Collectively, the covers and catalogue descriptions paint a searing commentary on fifty years of American/ global events. The interweaving themes that run through Mobley’s story include: the lines that separate and blur truth, myth, and fiction; the seduction of commercial success; the paradoxes of American politics and media culture; the creative process; crime, punishment, and redemption; and the changing shape of literacy and the future of the book. We hope to produce two or three editions of this exhibition, so it can be on view simultaneously in different locations. Book the show now for dates starting in the fall of 2013 and arrange for Warren Lehrer to do a reading/performance.
inquire about booking the show
inquire about booking the Exhibition