6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, Leandro Viana presents his ‘Sherpas’ project, a series centered on the Sherpa community of Elmhurst, Queens. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Queens is the second-most populous borough in New York City with well over two million inhabitants. Queens is also New York City’s most diverse borough, boasting a population that is nearly 50 percent foreign-born with individuals hailing from over 100 different countries. In all, there are around 500 different languages spoken, some of which can be traced back to the most remote corners of the world. And within this cornucopia of culture are the Sherpa people.
While the word Sherpa for many will recall scenes of mountaineers scaling the snowy peaks of the Himalayas, in recent years, more and more Sherpas have planted their flags in the much more level neighborhood of Elmhurst, Queens. Indeed, today there are nearly 3,000 Sherpas living in New York City, making for the largest population outside of South Asia. Ahead, Brooklyn photographer Leandro Viana shares his series documenting this unique group in their new land, spotlighting their efforts to preserve their language, religion, culture, and arts so far from home.