Larry & Barbara Marshall Family Balcony, 404

Foundling is a project by artist Megan Rye that features 100 portraits of children who were adopted by American parents from countries in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central and South America. Rye herself was adopted from South Korea and lives and works in Minneapolis.

Rye defines a foundling as a person who is “twice born, once at abandonment and again at reclamation.” The paintings included in this exhibition are based on the referral photos used by international adoption agencies to introduce children to parents in America. For Rye, the project pays homage both to the families who adopted children and who surrendered children for adoption. Painted on shopping bags from Target, a nationwide retail chain that originated in Minnesota, the portraits raise questions about the monetary and social costs associated with adoption. Visitors can read stories about the adopted children pictured in Foundling in the book located in the gallery and on our free app.

As of 2017, the Adoptee Rights Campaign estimated 35,000 adult adoptees from overseas may lack United States citizenship, which was not granted automatically through the adoption process before 2000. Some of these adoptees have been deported to their birth countries. Rye’s installation raises awareness of immigrants’ civil rights and offers support for the adoption community in the United States. This exhibition also includes select artworks from the Spencer's collection that document or comment on immigration history from different perspectives.

This exhibition is supported by KU Student Senate and the Linda Inman Bailey Exhibitions Fund.

Selected images