Image by Khokolah Sherzad - 2018 Participant
Picture Me Here (PMH) is an arts and storytelling program for refugees and immigrants. Photography, video, animation and writing are taught as creative tools for self expression and community building. Projects are based on a variety of themes including migration, memory and place. Participants explore and share their personal histories, cultural identities, new surroundings and resettlement experiences. They build skills in technology, English language, leadership, and public speaking. Projects culminate in exhibits, screenings and events that bring together diverse groups to view artworks, hear stories and build new connections.
PMH began in 2012 in Pingala Kanal's apartment in Aurora, Colorado. Pingala and seven other Bhutanese women had just resettled from a refugee camp in Nepal to Aurora. We met weekly, taught photography, and explored the neighborhood and various themes with cameras. During each session, we also shared our past and current lives through photography. After five months, we put on an exhibit where the women who were shy on day one, boldly stood by their photographs, talking about their lives with visitors. The photographs and exhibit gave people of all backgrounds an opportunity to connect in a meaningful way. Deeply inspired by this potential, I made a commitment to continue this work, and have served as the director since 2013. I've had the joy and privilege of facilitating numerous projects with over 20 ethnic groups, involving all ages from children to seniors, and many, talented teaching artists and collaborative partners. It's a labor of love, made possible by amazing people and incredible stories.