When Home Won't Let You Stay: Stories of Refugees

The Blue Earth County Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of “When Home Won’t Let You Stay,” a poignant photography exhibition about refugees in Minnesota by documentary photographer James A. Bowey.

The exhibition on display at the Blue Earth County History Center runs from May 7 to July 30. It seeks to provide a new perspective on the often hidden lives and compelling experiences of refugees in our communities. The exhibition consists of contemporary color portraits accompanied by first-person stories highlighting the plight and resiliency of refugees who call Minnesota home. BECHS is the inaugural presentation of the exhibition which will travel to other Minnesota communities in the summer and fall.

“We are very excited to present this important work,” said Jessica Potter, Executive Director of BECHS. “It’s an important contemporary issue that links us to the vital role that migrants and refugees play in the history of this region.”

The number of globally displaced people has risen dramatically in recent years and is expected to continue to rise in response to ongoing conflicts, poverty, and climate change. International and national events have prompted conversations in communities across the country about our American roots, our national identity and the refugee experience.

“As a documentary artist I’m drawn to stories that provide a window into the state of contemporary society,” said Bowey, “and I think at the present moment there is no more compelling story than the plight of refugees.”

The exhibition is being supported in part by Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) Refugee Services through a grant from The Linking Communities Project supporting the welcome and resettlement of refugees. MCC Refugee Services provides comprehensive services to support refugees in the Twin Cities and Mankato areas.

BECHS along with MCC and the Greater Mankato Diversity Council, will co-host a community conversation at 1 p.m. on May 21. The Society’s History Bits and Bites will feature a presentation by Bowey at noon on June 29. 


James A. Bowey is a documentary photographer who explores issues of human rights and social connection. He has spent his career covering a wide range of global and national stories from the war in Bosnia to Hurricane Katrina. His work has been featured by The New York Times, Time Magazine, the Associated Press, as well as in numerous exhibitions. Bowey is also an educator and was on the faculty at Winona State University from 2008 to 2015 where he won the national WOW award for innovation in higher education.


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When Home Won't Let You Stay Exhibit