About Carry-on Homes

           One day when cleaning my bedroom, I noticed a big fake green diamond sitting perfectly on a glass water bottle like a plug that was meant for that space. The green diamond is a paperweight I brought along in my carry-on suitcase when, six years ago, I first moved to the United States from China to study art. Since then, moving time after time, I have renewed what’s in my carry-on suitcase completely. The green diamond, however, remains there with a few new chips. Its beauty and cheapness somehow reminds me of the relationship I had left behind in my home country. Recently, I have started to wonder what my immigrant friends from all over the world had brought along with them to this country and what objects would eventually remain with them here. Have they regretted what’s left behind? Have they found their dreams? Have they built their new homes?

            With this curiosity in mind, we felt the urge to reach out to our friends, or friends' friends, in our immigrant community in Minnesota. My collaborator Shunjie and I started to photograph them each with the single object they brought to this country. Meanwhile, we ask them to share with us the stories behind the objects, their past, and their lives here in Minnesota. A woman brought a pair of candle holders allowing her to pray to her 10,000 Gods. A man brought a beer opener he stole from a small hardware store in Sweden 30 years ago. A girl brought a pair of shoes handmade for the local market in Syria, which have been worn out with holes soon on the icy cold streets in Minnesota. They are pieces of the homes that sustain us with strength so we can carry on and build new homes here. This project has becoming a small community that is built on this strength. 

             We are so grateful about the trust from our participants who may not know us before, but came to visit us, lent us their voices, shared their stories. So we can be heard.