Written by: Christa Iwu, FFTA Impact Officer
Yunier Ramirez first arrived in Louisville after his family left Cuba in 2017. Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM), he says, quickly became his extended family. Since then, Ramirez has been a staple in the KRM community. As an accomplished photographer, he often lent his skills to documenting the transformative work that KRM does to help families resettle and find a sense of belonging in Louisville.
When KRM put out the call for “We Create” artists as part of their Imagine link to imagineGreater Louisville 2020 award, Ramirez once again felt at home. Artists from all disciplines were invited to view videos of former and current refugees. They then created commissioned works designed to tell those stories and inspire connectivity in the community.
Ramirez’s project, however, pulled from his own interactions. Titled “The Lost Boys,” he photographed former refugees who once sat beside him in English Second Language (ESL) classes at KRM. The resulting photographs and video speak to the pasts of children—now his adult peers—and their journeys from “a past too heavy to be left behind.”
Ramirez carries his storytelling skills into his current photography business. He mixes past, present, and future to help us think about the personalities skills of those from around the world who are now integral parts of our community.
“For me, art is a necessity, and photography is the means of telling stories that, however simple they may seem, will always be complex,” says Ramirez. “And it is important for me to share what it generates in my emotions—sometimes heartbreaking and other times of encouragement —but it is vital for me that the community around me sees and feels part of what I capture with my photos, because my work generates in me the continuous desire to do good to others, and I hope it is the same with those who appreciate it.”
To see Ramirez’s work and celebrate the culmination of KRM’s World Refugee Week Festival, visit the Brown Theatre tomorrow, Saturday 23 at 4:30pm. The event is free and open to the public, with a performance showcase beginning at 5pm.
KRM’s We Create program is made possible through funding partnerships with Imagine Greater Louisville 2020, part of Fund for the Arts, Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville Metro Government.
View Yunier Ramirez’s work below: