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Jackson Heights art exhibit to explore immigrant experience

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An art exhibition celebrating diversity will draw audiences from around New York City and will be held between June 16 and July 1 at Venue Space37 in Jackson Heights.

Babel, the first annual “June in Jackson Heights” art exhibition, will establish connections between the written word and the recent explosion of immigrant enclaves in and around New York City. It will explore the relationship of language and visual arts through paintings, illustrations, photography, sculpture, installations, video, performance and new-media.

Queens Media Arts Development encourages artists to submit works or propose new projects that treat the diversity and plurality of the written language as reflected, incorporated and/or appropriated in visual arts, performance and the moving image.

“The idea behind Babel is to give artists from Jackson Heights, and Queens in general, an opportunity to showcase their work in the neighborho­od,” said Hector Canonge, director of QMAD.

Babel encourages artists to think about the written word in relation to their work and community and the immigrant experience.

The exhibition will allow people to celebrate the diversity of Queens by coming together and expressing themselves through art. It provides people who do not have the opportunity to show their work to do so at this event.

Babel, taken from the ancient name for the city of Babylon, challenges people to use the written word to establish a sense of community — unlike the ancient story of Babylon, in which people unable to communicate failed to meet their goals as a society.

“Babel explores language and visual arts and ... [how that] connects to the ethnic diversity in and around Jackson Heights and Queens,” said Canonge.

Felipe Galindo, an artist who deals with Mexican culture, will be displaying his work at the exhibition.

“I’m working on numerous exhibitions, but I gave [Canonge] one, since his project Babel is about language and the visual arts,” said Galindo.

He is currently working on a project called Manhatitlan, in which he combines American and Mexican symbols in New York to promote the mixing of cultures.

Galindo focuses on the architecture of different cultures and characters of certain languages and produces framed drawings.

Jackson Heights composer and saxophonist Javier Arau will be performing at the exhibition. Arau is excited about Babel because he believes the event raises awareness and forms a sense of community for artists.

“We are usually working alone in our studios,” Arau said. “I think any of these exhibitions bringing together artists are significant because there are so many living in Queens, but there’s not as much of a community.”

Conange said he expects a large number of candidates to play music, recite poetry and perform in Spanish, Hindu, Tibetan and spoken and written languages in the area of Jackson Heights.

“I’m already getting flooded with submissions,” said Canonge. “There are artists everywhere contacting me inquiring about participat­ing.”

The exhibition will take place at Venue Space37, at 86-08 37th Ave. at 86th Street. Those interested in applying should e-mail their work to submissions@qmad.org by midnight June 12.

More information can be obtained by e-mailing Canonge at hectorcanonge@qmad.org.

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