The Migrant Project

MarioBy Sydnie Kroneberger

This week, the student exhibition portion of the De Re Mediterranea conference opened in the Corridoio Fiorentino. Exhibited are a mix of student works from various different media classes including painting, video, interior design, and photography all related to the topic of the Mediterranean. The photography included in the exhibition was from a special project with Oxfam about migrants in the city of Florence. I had the good fortune to work on the migrant project through my photography class as well as get to display my own work in the exhibition through the gallery exhibition course. It was really neat to get to have my work displayed but the best part was getting to be apart of the migrant project.

For the migrant project, we got to meet with several different groups of migrant communities who have made Florence their home. We go to sit down and talk with them and ask questions and take photographs documenting them and their lives. One of the most interesting parts of the project was working with traditional mosaic maker and the head of the Colombian community in Florence, Mario Navarrete. We spent many hours taking pictures of and talking with Mario. He is one of the most interesting people I have met during my time in Florence. He is passionate about his artwork but also about bringing different cultures together. He works with children, teaching them about Latin American culture through his use of puppets and toys. His infectious smile and genuine personality make people feel instantly comfortable and want to get to know him. It was such a joy getting to work with him. This project allowed me to work with new artists, express their lives through my own art, and become immersed in new cultures and their traditions.