Faces of Belonging Photo Exhibit

A woman on a bench is shown on a poster for the Faces of Belonging photo exhibit.

NIU School of Art and Design is thrilled to present Faces of Belonging a group exhibition of photographs by Amy Fleming, Edwin Perez-Hernandez, Jacob Rivera, Emma Vitallo, and Maeve Wallace. The exhibition is curated by Jessica Labatte, Associate Professor of Art at NIU. The photographs will be on display in the Annette and Jerry Johns Gallery on the second floor of the School of Art and Design’s Jack Arends Hall at Northern Illinois University from October 18 – November 2, 2021. The gallery is open to the public Monday – Friday from 9 am – 5 pm. A reception for the artists and participants will be held on Thursday, October 21 from 5-7 pm.

Faces of Belonging is a photographic project that promotes “belonging” amongst individuals who live, work, and study in DeKalb, Illinois. Our community is inhabited by a rich network of diverse individuals, each contributing their own unique perspectives and varied life experiences to DeKalb. Our project honors the faces and voices of community members who work to create a sense of belonging.

The photographic portraits show individuals that work to create a sense of belonging for others in our community. Some of these environmental portraits were made in a locations in the DeKalb area that create a sense of belonging for the individuals. Other were taken at public events where the community gathered to celebrate our community and honor our diversity. Excerpts from our interviews conducted with participants share their insights into what belonging means and how to create a sense of belonging for everyone. Whether that is through social justice work, promoting equity, mentoring, or ensuring the safety of our community, each of these individuals make DeKalb a more welcoming place to be. 

These faces remind us...all of us Belong.

Visitors are invited to contribute to a participatory project by writing their answer to the prompt “How do YOU define BELONGing?” on a large mural in the gallery space.

Gallery hours 9 am – 5 pm Monday – Friday

Faces of Belonging is in collaboration with Monique Bernoudy, Andy Dolan, Jennifer Groce, Paul Kassel, Mariano Spizzirri, and Sophia Varcados 

This project was funded through a Healing Illinois Grant from the State of Illinois Department of Human Services and the DeKalb County Community Foundation in partnership with Family Service Agency, City of DeKalb, Ellwood House Museum, DeKalb County History Center, and Northern Illinois University to help co-create a culture of belonging in our community. A full list of belonging projects can be found at cityofdekalb.com

Please visit the project website for more images and interviews:belongingdekalb.com