Refugees and Immigrants Tell Their Stories

A proud bookmaking participant holds up her book for the camera.

A proud bookmaker holds up her book for the camera.

The Tucson Museum of Art and Literacy Connects Help Refugees and Immigrants Tell Their Stories


Thanks in part to a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block (TMA) and Literacy Connects (LC) have teamed up to help refugees and immigrants tell their stories. The Learn English & Make Art book-making class took place over three Saturdays (April 29th, May 6th, and May 13th) and provided parallel instruction for both adult learners and their children.

Engaging Our Community

Marianna Pegno, associate curator of education at the Tucson Museum of Art reflects “this partnership explored how the arts can support language acquisition while building comfort within the museum. The collaboration between TMA and LC is an example of how two organizations can expand their capacity and broaden their practices to engage and empower English language learners in our community.” In both the adult and youth classes, overarching themes of identity and storytelling prompted attendees to think about the ways in which art making can tell stories in visual and written modes. The classes were also designed to improve English language skills, while attendees and facilitators learned about art and one another.

Coming Together

Maria Lee taught the adult class and is an adjunct art instructor at Pima Community College in printmaking and book arts, along with Lindsay Hansen, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona with a background in second-language teaching; both of whom are tutors in LC’s English Language Acquisition for Adults (ELAA) program. Facilitating the youth instruction was Anna Ramsey (MA), an arts educator researching the intersections of environmental and social justice, and Dr. Shana Cinquemani who specializes in early childhood art education. Marianna Pegno lead the gallery component of the classes where she walked participants through the exhibits asking open-ended questions while bench-marking language progress along the way.




Class photo

                            The adult bookmaking class.


children's class photo

Children’s class photo.

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