A digital archive of Asian/Asian American contemporary art history

Melnick, Leah

American, Jewish American, documented Cambodian community of the Bronx

"I have been photodocumenting the Cambodian Refugee community in the Bronx, New York since June 1986 as an independent interest in preserving a historical document of surviving members of a war-torn culture who are trying to make a new life for themselves in the United States. My academic studies focus upon this independent project and provide a structure and environment to learn more about the process of documenting a community.

I have been extensively involved with the Khmer community and combine volunteer work and much social time with my image-making and writing. I am concerned with issues about refugee resettlement in areas such as the Bronx and extensively examine the process of adaptation and acculturation this group of people is undergoing. I am interested in seeing aspects of traditional Cambodian culture preserved and through my photographs I hope to explore the balance between preserving Khmer culture with adapting to American life in the Bronx.

This fall I will begin photodocumenting the Cambodian refugee community in the Amherst/Northampton/Holyoke area to compare the resettlement experience in a rural versus an urban environment. I will continue doing volunteer work through the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service in Massachusetts to balance my humanitarian concern and involvement with the photodocumentary project."

Leah Melnick, Artist Statement, [1987]

Gallery of Selected Works