On Thursday, January 18th, AABANY members attended the “FOLD: Golden Venture Paper Sculptures” exhibit at the Museum of Chinese in America. Led by curator Andrew Rebatta and co-sponsored by the Government Service & Public Interest, Immigration, and Intellectual Property Committees, the event was an exciting and eye-opening introduction to the paper sculptures created by the Golden Venture detainees.

In 1993, a ship named “Golden Venture” crashed ashore in New York City. The ship held 300 migrants from Fujian province, China. Many perished in the frigid waters while trying to reach land. Upon reaching land, however, the surviving migrants were sent to immigrant detention centers and detained until 1997, despite seeking asylum from a socially repressive regime in China. The detainees would end up making intricate paper sculptures, inspired by the folk art they had learned in Fujian, in order to cope with their detention and repay the lawyers and supporters that had helped them.

Over forty sculptures collectively created by the immigrants while detained for years at York County (PA) Prison were on display at the exhibit, and Rebatta noted how a big source of inspiration for the exhibit was the theme of time. The collectively produced and labor-intensive sculptures give one a sense of how much time they spent behind bars. The folds of paper within the sculptures were not only a visual representation of the time spent by the immigrants in detention, but also the time that supporters spent in helping them. Eventually, many of the sculptures brought awareness to the detainees’ situation and aided in getting them out of detention.

The Golden Venture crash marks its 25th anniversary this year. At the 2017 Fall Conference, AABANY marked this milestone with a plenary lunch session entitled “The Golden Venture: 25 Years Later.” Among the panelists were Andrew Rebatta and Amanda Bernardo, Immigration Committee Co-Chair.

The exhibit is a must-see, and a remarkable representation of the suffering endured under America’s immigration system. For more information, see here: http://www.mocanyc.org/exhibitions/fold_golden_venture_paper_sculptures