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Safety-Kleen Gallery holds new exhibition titled “Finding Home”

The+Safety-Kleen+Gallery+gets+a+full+house+during+a+reception+on+its+latest+collection%2C+%22Finding+Home%2C%22+on+March+14.+Photographer%2C+Norma+Santaolaya%2C+sitting+with+her+mother+and+father+who+was+the+subject+of+her+photos+featured+in+the+show.+
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Safety-Kleen Gallery holds new exhibition titled “Finding Home”

The Safety-Kleen Gallery gets a full house during a reception on its latest collection,

The Safety-Kleen Gallery gets a full house during a reception on its latest collection, "Finding Home," on March 14. Photographer, Norma Santaolaya, sitting with her mother and father who was the subject of her photos featured in the show.

Kristen Flojo

The Safety-Kleen Gallery gets a full house during a reception on its latest collection, "Finding Home," on March 14. Photographer, Norma Santaolaya, sitting with her mother and father who was the subject of her photos featured in the show.

Kristen Flojo

Kristen Flojo

The Safety-Kleen Gallery gets a full house during a reception on its latest collection, "Finding Home," on March 14. Photographer, Norma Santaolaya, sitting with her mother and father who was the subject of her photos featured in the show.

Juan Castillo, Social Media Manager

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Kristen Flojo
Norma Santaolaya featured her father (right) in her photographs for the show.

In the Midwest, you can easily find individuals from various different countries and cultural backgrounds. Many will have made the decision to immigrate to the United States for reasons of opportunity or, at times, to escape what could be a dangerous situation they are facing in their home countries. Some may not be able to bring with them more than the clothes on their backs, but they do carry their stories.

These stories are what Jennifer Evans, the director of the Aurora Public Art Center, and Juan Fernandez, the Elgin Community College Gallery Curator, have hoped to present to the ECC community in the current exhibition on display in the Safety-Kleen Gallery titled, “Finding Home.”

“The show focuses on the fact that these could be anybody that you already know,” Fernandez said. “They don’t look all that much different.”

The exhibition is a collection of photographs of 12 families by 12 different photographers. Each photographer worked with a family and photographed them in their homes. All of the families photographed have emigrated from various different countries and have settled in the Midwest of the United States. Along with portraits of the families, the photographers also captured objects that were brought with them on their journey from their native countries.

All the photographs currently in the exhibition were printed on the house onto adhesive vinyl on a very large scale. So much so that they can easily be spotted from outside of the gallery and call the attention from anyone passing by through Building H.

“We can print any size we want to,” Fernandez said. “But we made some of these photographs huge so that when you are standing in the middle of the gallery, you have to deal with these people and their gaze and there is no escaping them.”

One of the featured photographers is Norma Santaolaya, a current student at ECC working towards her associate degree. Her contribution to the exhibition is unique from all the other photographers due to the fact that her subject was her own father.

“Even though the point of the project was to photograph these families in their homes while learning about their stories, I didn’t directly participate in that,” Santaolaya said. “I feel like I did that with my dad throughout my whole life of growing up with him.”

This was Santaolaya’s first show outside of past student shows. Along with the portraits of her father, she photographed various cassette tapes, a photo album and rosary beads that he brought with him during his travels into the United States.

The exhibition has been up for some time now and has had people of all walks of life walk into the gallery to view the work.

“The show has been very well received. People have really embraced it and seem to be interested in the work and its subject matter,” said Ryan Kangail, who serves as a Gallery Assistant in the Safety-Kleen Gallery.

“Finding Home” is one of the first exhibitions taking place in the various galleries at ECC under Fernandez since he has taken the position of gallery curator. The exhibition will continue to be on display in the gallery until April 5. 

Fernandez hopes to continue his work with these galleries to not only display pieces of art but to also educate the ECC community through future exhibitions and shows. 

About the Writer
Juan Castillo, Social Media Manager

My name is Juan Castillo. This is my fourth semester here at Elgin Community College. I am working towards my Associate in Arts here at ECC and plan on...

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Safety-Kleen Gallery holds new exhibition titled “Finding Home”