Immigrants featured in Minneapolis skyway art exhibit

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Inside the Minneapolis skyway, there's a snapshot of the changing faces of America.

“It’s looking at people who live here and it just so happens I chose immigration to look at," said Joe Burns, artist behind the exhibit.

Burns came up with the idea for the Facing America Exhibition to counter some of the negative rhetoric surrounding immigration. He created 17 oil paintings of 22 immigrants from 14 different countries along with short narratives of their life stories.

"I looked at too many people I knew who were immigrants,” said Burns. “Great hard working people raising their families here. Sometimes had multiple jobs. Working extremely hard to fit into America. I just wanted to put a face on those people."

Some of the subjects like State Representative Ilhan Omar, the nation's first Somali-American legislator, are well-known.

“This is the first time I'm seeing it,” said Omar. “I think he did a really wonderful job. It looks maybe even better than I do, so it’s really great. He did a wonderful job.”

While others are less recognizable, but their stories are just as compelling.

“I've been dreaming to have my own restaurant for 25 years,” said Hassan Ziadi, owner of Moroccan Flavor. “I've been working around the world in Europe and Morocco, in the Middle East. But it never happened anywhere else. It did happen here.”

Each portrait paints a different picture of the immigrant experience, but Burns hopes together they create a rich tapestry of the American Dream.

“I hope it does help politically, so that we can look at these people as real Americans which they are,” said Burns.

The exhibit will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Capella Tower. It will run through the end of October.