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Refuseniks: Photographs by Gary Monroe

Thru Mon 01/31/2022

Exhibition: Gary Monroe’s photographs of Refuseniks in the 1980s Location: Washington Gallery Dates: November 3, 2021 – January 21, 2022 The photograph exhibition features work by Gary Monroe and the series focuses on Jewish immigrants who landed in South Florida in the 1980s after being granted visas to leave the Soviet Union—usually after years of being denied, harassed, fired from their jobs, evicted from their living quarters, and sometimes jailed and tortured. Known as “refuseniks” because they were “refused” exit visas, many of them were professionals who took menial jobs, if they could get them, after applying to emigrate. This population reflects an experience that is almost forgotten and needs to be integrated into the larger story of refugees fleeing to the U.S. to avoid persecution. A substantial population of refuseniks immigrated to South Florida and created a community in Sunny Isles, as well as smaller enclaves in Bal Harbor, Aventura, Sunrise, Hallandale Beach, and Hollywood. Their story has a particular poignancy since along with the simultaneous waves of refugees from Haiti and Cuba, this group of immigrants helped to change the face of South Florida. The experiences of the Soviet Jews who found themselves on the “American Riviera,” as the South Florida coast is known in that community, has been buried for too long and needs to be told and integrated into the rich and diverse history of immigrants coming to Florida.

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