Art of Immigrant Youth on Display at Ellis Island

For the first time, HIAS’ annual Poster Contest for Immigrant Youth is on display at Ellis Island, part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Ellis Island was the nation’s premiere federal immigration station and is now a museum of immigration. Since 1995, HIAS, the international migration agency of the American Jewish community, has sponsored an annual immigrant art poster contest. Winning posters from the 2009 annual contest will be on display on the main floor of the Ellis Island Museum in the area behind the information desk through Labor Day.

This year’s contest theme was My Family’s Story, which was based on myStory, HIAS’ social networking site that allows immigrants to share their migration stories with one another through the written word, art, and media. Poster contestants, age 5-12, were asked to submit a piece of art and an essay to illustrate their family’s immigration story. Word spread, and the response was tremendous, with entries coming from across immigrant communities – from Russian Jewish to Greek to Chinese, Italian, and Korean. Five times more entries were received this year than last.

According to Gideon Aronoff, President & CEO of HIAS, “We believe that the positive response to the contest – and the success of myStory – is strong confirmation that personal immigration stories are among our most important national treasures, and it is befitting that this exhibit be displayed on Ellis Island. The vibrancy of these posters make a powerful statement about the vitality of our country, which was made strong by the immigrants who arrived here with individual and communal dreams to fulfill.”

Twelve winning posters were selected to be included in a festive 2010 calendar, and form the basis of the Ellis Island exhibit. Entries are now being solicited for the 2010 contest, which closes on October 15, 2010. For more information check the HIAS website.

Funding for the calendar and the Ellis Island exhibit was provided by the Estate of Sidney Krum. Downloadable versions of posters from 1995 to the present are available online at HIAS’ Sidney Krum Gallery.