At Centro Autónomo in Albany Park, women gathered together with teaching artists Silvia Gonzalez and Jeannette Perkal, to make collaborative art pieces and discuss life in their community. In three sessions, the artists learned three unique photo and printmaking processes. They brought in sentimental photographs of their pets, partners, friends, the natural world, the female body, and symbols of their culture to use in their work. All of their pieces culminated into a community art installation at the Center.
During their time together, the women found a powerful through line in sunlight. One of the workshop processes involved placing small objects on light-sensitive paper to expose a scene. The process was an engaging learning experience because the scenes would not always turn out as anticipated or the exposures occasionally needed more light to truly be seen. These challenges mirrored some of the women’s’ life experiences such as acclimating to an unexpected, physical limitation, helping a friend through PTSD, and finding strength in a new city. In both the art-making process and on a personal level, the women worked together to provide support, find creative solutions, discover beauty in the unexpected, and fill each other with light. Through the second phase of the 20 Neighborhoods Project, the women of Centro Autónomo not only made incredible works of art, but also established a space of inclusion, empowerment, and positivity within their community.