A Place to Call Home
"A Place to Call Home" was a passion project in which I interviewed and photographed local residents who had moved to our small town in Wisconsin from other countries. The project culminated in an exhibition at our local museum.
The exhibition offered a unique opportunity to build connections through historic and current residents’ portraits and stories. Attendees learned why people have moved to Fort Atkinson over the years and why they stayed, from the desire to escape violence and the aftermath of war, to youthful curiosity, to the pursuit of the American Dream.
"Bad experiences, or bad discipline, or people with bad attitudes might try to stop you. They might be in your way but I think it’s always possible to get what you want if you are consistent, and if you have faith, and if you work for it.”
Yesenia was 16 years old when she boarded a city bus and sat in an open seat next to a young man. Little did she know that her decision to take that seat would start a chain reaction that would eventually lead to her moving nearly 2,000 miles north to Wisconsin.
“One day I called my mother and said, ‘I don’t want to be here anymore. I want to come back.' But my mama is very tough. She was like, ‘My son, this is what you wanted. You wanted to play baseball and you got it. You need to man up.’”
“I grew up in London, and growing up was fine there, but I wanted my own kids to have space. It’s a good combination, with small-town life here and the university just a few miles down the road, and with Madison and Chicago close by as well.”
Modesto says he feels blessed to live here, and one of his primary goals is to encourage his congregation to acknowledge and share their blessings, as well. “This is a big goal for me. I tell them, ‘You can be a volunteer, too. There’s a ripple effect, like a stone in the water.’”
The Faces You Don't See
A message from the photographer
Sadly, the women who inspired this exhibition could not be featured in it. My friends B. and N. are sisters who moved to the United States from the Mexican state of Oaxaca nearly twenty years ago. They were tired of the lack of reliable drinking water in their homes, disillusioned by corrupt politicians, and frustrated by an economic system in which there seemed to be no honest way to get ahead.
They saw America’s promise and they wanted it for themselves, and they wanted it so badly that they left their homes, crossed the border, and made their way north to Wisconsin.