Dennis Yermoshin: My Fellow Americans

Dennis Yermoshin

I was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, in 1982. My family and I came to America as refugees in 1991 as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh War, which began in 1988, shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow relocated us to Providence, Rhode Island. We did; like many other refugees, we had no preference. We were the first members of our family to come to America, so over the years my immediate family was instrumental in helping our extended family move to the United States. My family quickly developed strong friendships with other refugee and immigrant families that settled in Rhode Island, most of whom also came from Azerbaijan. These friendships slowly formed a social group, united by common culture.

Eleven years after I came to America, I began photographing my family and friends while enrolled in my first photography class at the university. The focus was to explore the different generations of Soviet immigrants and refugees who came to Rhode Island during the 1990's. By photographing my subjects in their daily environments such as their homes, their jobs and in their neighborhoods, I wanted to capture the relationships that had developed between these places and the people since they had moved to America. Fascinated with the idea that the foundation of America was built by immigrants, I wanted to explore the roles that we play in American life as workers, as parents, as siblings, as friends and as Americans.

This series is about a reconstruction of a life left behind. It is a portrait of my family and friends; a specific group of people who, due to the failure of the Soviet government, ended up in America. Through these photographs I explore the process of adaptation and the endurance of nostalgia, two unconditional aspects of immigrant life.

- Dennis Yermoshin

All photographs were taken between 2003 and 2009 in greater Rhode Island and Houston, Texas. They were captured with a 35 mm camera.