Julia Csekö’s “Transcending Borders” on Salem’s Artists’ Row

Jul 9, 2024Arts & Culture, Feature Story, Grantee, News & Announcements

A Celebration of Immigrant Stories Funded by Creative County

📸 @deborahjkarsonphotography

Somerville artist Julia Csekö’s moving installation, “Transcending Borders,” is now on display at Salem’s Artists’ Row. This impactful project, funded by the Creative County Initiative, is a culmination of Csekö’s work as Salem’s public artist-in-residence and serves as an ongoing storytelling project for the community. The installation will be available for public viewing through September 8, 2024.

As a child of Brazilian exiles born in the United States, Julia Csekö’s work is deeply influenced by her parents’ immigrant experience. “Transcending Borders” aims to destigmatize immigration and celebrate the resilience of immigrant communities. The installation features a vibrant array of colorful ribbons, each bearing the message “You are welcome here!” in different languages. Visitors are encouraged to share their own immigration stories through a QR code that allows for written or audio submissions.

The installation and its participatory storytelling project will move to Salem Old Town Hall in January, where the collected stories will continue to be showcased. This transition underscores the ongoing nature of the project and its commitment to fostering understanding and empathy within the community.

Csekö’s installation reveals that many participants feel a deep sense of being an outsider, despite living in the United States for many years or even being second-generation immigrants. One participant, Julio Mota, expressed, “There’s just a big aversion to being an immigrant. It’s like a negative thing, even unconsciously, even if you’re not someone who thinks negative things about immigrants. We tend to hide it.” This sentiment is a powerful reminder of the social stigmas that immigrants often face and the importance of projects like “Transcending Borders” in challenging these perceptions.

The installation itself is a visual spectacle, drawing in visitors with its colorful ribbons and interactive elements. By inviting the public to share their stories, Csekö creates a space for dialogue and connection, fostering a sense of community and shared understanding.

Visit “Transcending Borders”

“Transcending Borders” is located on Artists’ Row at 24 New Derby St., Salem, MA, and will be on display through September 8, 2024. Don’t miss the chance to experience this powerful installation and contribute your own story to this important project.

About Creative County and ALAANA Artist Grants

The Creative County Initiative, which funded “Transcending Borders,” is dedicated to supporting arts and cultural projects that enrich the community and promote social change. One of its key programs is the ALAANA Artist Grants, which support the development of creative works by artists who identify as ALAANA (African, Latine, Asian, Arab, Native American). Recognizing the historic and systemic exclusion of these artists from accessing resources, the ALAANA Artist Grant program provides up to $5,000 for up to five individual artists each year to develop works in any creative genre, such as poetry, spoken word, music, painting, sculpture, or short plays. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.


Julia Csekö’s “Transcending Borders” is more than an art installation; it is a platform for immigrant voices and a celebration of resilience. Supported by Creative County, this project highlights the power of storytelling in fostering community and understanding. Visit the installation, share your story, and join the ongoing dialogue about immigration and identity.

Stay connected with Creative County for updates on future events and grant opportunities. Together, we can continue to nurture and celebrate the creativity that makes our community unique.

Join the Creative County Initiative Meetup

For those interested in learning more about Creative County and its support for the arts, the next Creative County Initiative Meetup will be held on July 10, 2024, at 9 AM via Zoom. Hosted by Karen Ristuben from ECCF Creative County Initiative and John Andrews from Creative Collective, this monthly virtual meetup fosters discussions among creators, leaders, influencers, and stakeholders on strengthening the creative ecosystem in Essex County.

Register for the meetup here.