The Immigrant Life of a Printmaker – “Home is where the prints are.”

Sam Schanwald Narcissus, Risograph Print, Brooklyn

The Immigrant Life

I have been authorized to work in the US for almost 3 years now and I have 6 more months on my passport. Hopefully it will be another 3 years after that, but you never know. That’s the immigrant life.

I have been much luckier than many other immigrants who have been deported (or facing deportation) due to the current crazy situation of the world. And definitely luckier than millions of people who have been forced out of their homes due to wars, daily bombings, and all kinds of cruelty which I can not even comprehend at this point. I am writing this note to you on a day of a bombing in my city of birth: Kayseri. (This was written as an email on Dec. 17, 2016)

I have only spent 20 days there as a baby. I have spent my time in many different places. I lived in Turkey, I spent a year in Canada, I have been living in the US for over 5 years now, and it doesn’t matter if it was 20 days, or 20 years. That city is an important part of my life, it was the start of my life. Now, it’s also the end of many lives.

Eleanor Doughty Print, Risograph Brooklyn - Home is where the prints areHome is where the prints are.

I am in a part of my life where I constantly think about traveling. This is partly because I have my family and friends in different countries, and partly because I am trying to figure out a logical way of borders / frontiers / and civilization, trying to understand what the “world we live in” is. If you have any book suggestions for me, or if you want to share your immigration story, or the love of prints, please reply to this email.

The limitations of my Risograph printer became an advantage for me. The maximum size I can print on is 11″x17″ which is pretty easy to travel with. I had people buying prints for their home in NYC which they will only use for 6 months, before going back to Sweden. I had international students getting prints for their rooms here and for their homes there.

I came up with the idea of “Home is where the prints are” when a friend of mine bought three prints featuring different types of homes. That friend will be in the US for only a year, and she will take her prints with her when her time in the US is over. The limitations of my Risograph printer became an advantage for the art loving immigrants.