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Far away and not long ago in the Faroes

This was one of the most fun and unusual jobs I did in the past few months. Writing the text for a set of commemorative stamps for the Faroese Post Office. My friend Joel Cole (a native Minnesotan, where I first met him and wrote about him many years ago), has lived in the Faroes for many years now, and he has a Faroese family and kids. He's a talented sculptor, and this series expresses the joys and difficulties of being an immigrant. As an immigrant myself (to France), it really spoke to me.

I've always been fascinated by these islands, isolated in the Atlantic between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroes are one of the most homogenous populations in the world; its approximately 50,000 people are almost entirely of Scandinavian and Irish-Scottish descent. Surprisingly, however, among the islands’ small community of immigrants, there are by some accounts 100 other countries represented. In researching this project, Cole spoke with more than 50 immigrants to the Faroes, gathering their thoughts and adding them to his impressions about the experience of adapting to life far from his origins. The themes that emerged in these conversations helped shape the idea behind each sculpture. He created more than 50 sculptures, but these six were chosen for the commemorative stamps. I wrote a several-hundred-word essay to go with the stamps. The text was translated into Faroese, and this month Cole is exhibiting the work at a gallery in Torshavn, the capital. I wish I could be there.

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