Aram Han Sifuentes:
US Citizenship Test Samplers
Throughout the fall Jane Addams Hull-House Museum will have on view Sifuentes’ on-going project US Citizenship Test Samplers. Samplers were used in Colonial America (18 to 19th century) to teach students as young as six years old the alphabet and how to sew. Adolescent girls would create another sampler that served as a signifier of worth to her potential suitors.
Sifuentes organized workshops with other non-citizens where participants study the questions on the naturalization test through the act of sewing the U.S. Citizenship Test Samplers. The samplers are exhibited together to display the value of this non-citizen community and each of these samplers are sold for $680- the cost of the U.S. naturalization application. In the spirit of the social settlement, the sampler workshops organically become grassroots round table discussions addressing immigrant rights, labor politics, and everyday concerns of intergenerational and multiethnic people. These roundtables are ephemeral snapshots of the realities of immigrant life in the United States today.
Aram Han Sifuentes’ work, aligned with Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, explores fundamental questions of participation, exclusion, and citizenship in the United States. These were important issues explored and experienced by Jane Addams, Hull-House resident Grace Abbot, and their immigrant neighbors all of whom could not vote when Hull-House opened 1889.
US Citizenship Test Samplers workshop sites have included: Erie Neighborhood House, Rodolfo Lozano Bilingual & International Center Elementary School, Pulaski International School of Chicago, Smithsonian Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, Center for Craft, Creativity and Design, Korean Community Center of the East Bay.
US Citizenship Test Samplers was supported by an Individual Artist Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. This project is also supported by a grant from Puffin Foundation Ltd.