The Museum of Latin American Art organized an exhibition showcasing the stunning works of art of unaccompanied migrant children
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When we hear of migrant children, we immediately conjure up images of minors being held in cages, separated from their parents and other kinds of horrific stories that we see in the media. And indeed, these migrant children have experienced trauma. But, deep down, they are still children. The most recent exhibition at the Museum of Latin American Art illustrated this fact to the world.
On Sunday, the Long Beach Museum of Latin American Art hosted a day-long event that exhibited the artwork of unaccompanied migrant children housed at the Long Beach Convention Center.
The artwork was produced by migrant children in workshops organized by the US Department of Health and Human Services. A total of 1,538 children were accommodated at the Long Beach Convention Center between April 22 and July 23, 2021. The children were all over the age of five and most were girls.
“These young artists are a reminder to all of us why it was so important for us to create a safe and welcoming environment for these children,” Long Beach Maj. Robert Garcia said in a statement. “These kids have been through so much. They are smart, creative and their inspiration shines through in their beautiful works of art.
This Sunday, people came from all over Southern California to view the art – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as MOLAA has no room in their schedule to exhibit the work again.
The migrant children’s artwork included “campaign” posters for a makeshift election of “council members” for the migrant shelter, much like a student body election. Migrant children also designed a logo for the emergency shelter, which became the official logo of the shelter worn by staff. MOLAA chose to hold the show on a Sunday because that’s when they traditionally wave their entrance fees. That way more people could attend.
The exhibition also included dresses made by hand from recycled materials. Many of them looked like quinceañera dresses with wide skirts and tissue paper ruffles. The dresses were made by the migrant girls as part of a fashion show held at the migrant shelter.
The artwork was a beautiful reminder that these migrant children are more than just a topic of political discussion – they are human beings with complex inner lives.
Solimar Salas, vice president of content and programming at MOLAA, said the exhibit was a chance to “humanize children” who have received such media attention. “These kids, they have dreams, they have hopes, they have a future,” he told the Long Beach Post.
A man, Daniel Trujillo, came from Koreatown, Los Angeles, expecting to see a heartbreaking spectacle. After all, most (if not all) of these children experienced the traumatic event of migration without their families. However, Trujillo was struck by the “joy” of migrant children’s artwork. “I can just see they are having so much fun.” he told the Long Beach Post.
You can see photos of the artwork in the exhibition here.
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