Art Exhibit by Juan Giraldo at Toman Branch

Toman Branch hosts a Hispanic Heritage Month art exhibit featuring the work of artist Juan Giraldo.

Photographs from Giraldo's exhibit A View from Home will be on display from September 15 through October 15.

Artist Statement

I spent a lifetime in Paterson, N.J.’s Riverside section, in the shadow of New York City; in the midst of its declining industry and long-forgotten silk mills. Growing up there spurred an interest in the people who live and work in what is left of the industrial landscape. These photographs visualize the lives of the people that live there; their experiences closely mirror my own. My voice is only part of a larger conversation.[1] I was born in Manizales, Colombia and raised in Paterson, N.J., after my parents moved there. Paterson is a working-class city similar to where my subjects live. In October of 2012, I moved to Chicago and began to photograph the site and people that characterize Great Lakes Reload (GLR) on Chicago’s Far Southeast Side (GLR is a 385,000-square foot warehouse that transports, stores and process various types of steel products: sheet, plate, bar, beam and tube products). Over time, GLR came to feel eerily familiar. The smell of diesel and cigarettes reminded me of the loading dock I had worked on in my youth; GLR’s dock workers shared qualities with so many of my family members, former co-workers and friends. They are tough, strong, and they endure. Through photographing the GLR employees, I became familiar with the narratives of their personal lives and relationships; the ties that bind friends, co-workers and families emerged as the relationship of photographer and subject became more intimate.

Familiarizing myself with their anecdotes and experiences allowed me to embrace the details, beauty and drama of the mundane found in their homes as I continued photographing them. As I documented their lives, a strong bond emerged which allowed me to photograph my subjects as I would my family. In their stories I see echoes of my past. Their personal interior spaces reveal the textures of a working life and the banal indicators of domesticity that shaped the person that I am. The décor of these homes reveal their residents as people of Catholic faith, first-generation immigrants and blue-collar manual laborers. My portraits and still lifes highlight objects of importance and their iconographic meaning in these domestic settings, reflecting a reverence for my personal history and the lives of the people in my photographs.

[1] Lisa Janes, curatorial statement displayed in Juan Giraldo and Victor Yañez-Lazcano Aquî Exhibit, Perspective Gallery, Evanston, IL.

Hispanic Heritage Month Art Exhibits

See the list of artists exhibiting at CPL during Hispanic Heritage Month.