Working Families in Focus: Photo Exhibit Reflection

Julio Chavez | March 23, 2020

On October 24, 2019, filmmakers, photographers, poets, and musicians of color presented their original works on the resilience and power of immigrant working families in Los Angeles. The exhibit, including photos and short film presentations, is an initiative of the UCLA Labor Center’s Parent Worker Project, an applied research project that lifts up low-wage working parents as experts on their children’s education and communities. 

The Working Families in Focus exhibit was a great way for me to see the ways in which the UCLA Labor Center is involved with the community. I spent the majority of the afternoon placing the photos that were taken by Wilber Prada, local filmmaker and activist, along the walls of the Labor Center. This really gave me the opportunity to appreciate the photos.

Every frame had community members, and I appreciated how children and youth from the community were also given a space in the exhibit. My favorite piece from the exhibit is one where two mothers and their strollers are standing directly in front of UCLA’s Royce Hall. Royce Hall has two pillars that make it stand out at UCLA, in a similar fashion the two mothers and their strollers also stood proudly on a campus where they are not the common visitor. That same photo also spoke out to me because the mothers reminded me of my own mother. Although my mother did not have a formal education, she always stood proudly and confidently for her children, myself included, and her community. 

The fact that I could see my mother and myself represented in the exhibit also demonstrates how the community was really the focal point of the night. It was refreshing to see the same people in the frames amongst the faces in the crowd. This was probably one of the first times that I have seen community members, especially mothers, be given a platform and voice in a room filled with diverse attendance. I feel that it was very impactful for the children that night to see their parents and community so beautifully represented.. 

Our turnout to the event was also very strong; not just because of the number, but because of the diverse attendance. I believe that we were able to bring together a multitude of people that might have never been in the same room had it not been for the exhibit. We had students, professors, children, artists, and many others interacting and sharing space. There was something about that night that made it feel special; I feel like the Labor Center was able to provide a very powerful and meaningful night for educating the community and placing them first.  

About the Author

Julio Chavez is a fourth year at UCLA with interests in Education, Labor related activism, and community building. He was connected to the Working Families in Focus project through his internship at the UCLA Labor Center.