“Pilgrim Father/Illegal Son: story of two immigrants” is a project developed in collaboration with Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), a Boston-based grass-root organization that serves many new immigrants. The project is an exhibition piece consisting of two sets of ten 40” x 32” digitally produced panels. The work tells two stories of immigrations to America: one, of a present-day Chinese who came to New England nine years ago, and stayed on to work without legal documents; the other, of William Bradford, who sailed in the early 1600s, on the Mayflower, from England, without a proper permit, and, planted the Plymouth Colony in Wampanoag country.
These two stories are told through each person’s personal accounts: the transcriptions of oral history interviews of the Chinese worker, and the 17th century writings of Bradford, adapted into modern English. The dual-language project applies images of the basement living quarters of the Chinese worker along with pictures of the bleak land as faced first by the English emigrant, with later iconic cultural representations of Bradford in art and films. In our society now, Bradford is enshrined as a “Pilgrim Father”, and the “illegal” is viewed mostly with great contempt. This project tries to treat their life stories in parity that they may be viewed with some equivalence.