The Vanishing: Re-Presenting the Chinese in the American West
The discovery of gold in California int he mid 1800s brought thousands of people to the American West. Among those who came were many Chinese--mostly young men who believed a few years of mining would allow them to return home with a small fortune. That dream was realized for very few of these immigrants. Unable to afford passage home, most of these Chinese stayed in the West and became a significant labor force in a number of growing industries. Wool mills, garment manufacturers, mining operations and the railroads employed many of the Chinese. By 1882, the Chinese population in the United States was 110,000. Unfortunately, the post civil war depression fueled anti-immigrant sentiments and, in 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which halted all immigration and prohibited those already in the country from becoming U.S. Citizens. The Exhibit features photographs of Chinese immigrants in Idaho, an installation containing bars of soap imprinted with the word REMEMBER; paintings of 19th century Chinese female "types," prostitutes, child street acrobats, war refugees, and women laborers. Exhibition held in the Street Level Gallery space.