People who made the journey

From the Director Dena Wortzel


Every immigrant to Wisconsin has a unique story.  If you aren’t part of that story, or aren’t looking for it, you might miss it.

As immigration remains at the red-hot center of our politically divided nation, we decided at the WHC that we had to use the humanities to help people think about the immigrants among us — especially immigrants from south of the border.

I’m really excited to be announcing the opening of our new exhibition, Immigrant Journeys from South of the Border ¡Mi travesía hasta Wisconsin! at Verona Public Library. The exhibit tours Dane County this summer before we offer it statewide.  (You can find tour dates and locations, and experience the exhibition online, at

The idea for the exhibit came out of conversations I had with Karen Menéndez Coller, director of Centro Hispano of Dane County, about how together we could increase understanding of the lives of Latinx immigrants. We know that many Wisconsinites have little opportunity to meet people who immigrated to Wisconsin from Mexico, Central and South America.  So we decided that Centro would reach out to invite people to share their stories. Two respected journalists, Bill Berry and photographer Gary Porter, joined our team to turn those stories into an exhibit.  Now, thanks to Gilberto, Saul, Ana Claudia, Fernando, Jennifer, Mario, Cinthia, and Panfilo, we’re offering Wisconsin a new entry point to the conversations about immigration that we need to have.

We have a joke around the office that there is no such thing as a humanities emergency. But these days, I see a humanities emergency. When our differences and our rhetoric erode our sense of others’ humanity, that’s a humanities emergency. When anyone is cast out from the circle of moral consideration, that’s a humanities emergency.

No matter what your views on immigration policy, I hope this exhibit helps you find new, richer ways to think and talk about the lives of people who, like you, are making Wisconsin home.

Whether in person or online, please take the time to experience and share the eight gorgeous photographic portraits and first-person stories you’ll find in Immigrant Journeys from South of the Border ¡Mi travesía hasta Wisconsin!. And join me in bringing the humanities — and your humanity – to one of our state’s and our nation’s most consequential conversations.

PS: The exhibit will be in downtown Madison at the Overture Center next. Please join me, Karen, Bill, and Gary on July 14 in the Playhouse Gallery at 3PM for a special reception!


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