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Migrant Children capture their lives through their own eyes

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A sunny day on the grassy playground, family gatherings around the table, an empty house, Our Lady of Guadalupe – these are just some of the vivid imagery captured by children of migrant agricultural workers temporarily living in Yolo County. Each of these photographs tells the untold story of migrant children – their fears, hopes and dreams as they migrate with their families from season to season, farm to farm.

A Través de Mis Ojos (Through My Eyes), sponsored in part by The Latino Legislative, Caucus Foundation and Spanglish Arte, is a collection of 48 intimate photographs featured from Dec. 10 through Friday at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Sacramento (CCAS). Viewers of the exhibit had the rare opportunity to experience a personal glimpse into the world of migrant children.

Most of the children in the exhibit learned about the art of photography in a class at Yolo Family Resource Center (YFRC) in Woodland.

Through the six-week program, facilitated by Neil Hollander and Natalia Deeb-Sosa, the children, most of whom never used a camera before, learned the mechanics of developing film and using 35mm cameras, which were donated by community members. Through these skills, the children were able to document aspects of their daily lives from their own perspectives. Their photographs also helped educate the community on the unique lives of farm workers

On Dec. 11, the art center held a Second Saturday reception, where they raised approximately $600 through donations, as well as through selling photographs and T-shirts. Proceeds will go toward the migrant children and their families, building YFRC services and setting up a darkroom so the children may continue producing quality photographs, such as the ones featured in "A Tráves de Mis Ojos."

According to Xico González, curator of the CCAS exhibit, “The class was such a huge success that the YFRC made a space for a small darkroom in their building.”

González first brought the idea of curating this exhibit “as a fundraiser and as an educational tool to provide the general public with an insight into the lives of farm workers.”

After past outreach experience in the Yolo County area, he decided to focus the project on the migrant community of Yolo County, specifically through the Davis Migrant Center, Dixon Migrant Center and YFRC.

“The responses have been very positive from the community towards this project, and exhibit,” González said. “People are very impressed by the children's photographs in terms of subject matter and aesthetics.”

One of the highlights of the exhibit includes an invitation to take "A Tráves de Mis Ojos" to San José State University in May 2011.

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