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Toward Common Cause with Jason De León, Wendy Ewald, and Daysi Funes

A family gathers in front of a storefront window full of photographs. In the foreground, a hand holds a phone up to share with a woman over video chat.

January 12, 2021
12:00 PM

Through scholarly research, collaborative artmaking, and community organizing Jason De León, Wendy Ewald, and Daysi Funes address critical immigration, migration, and human rights issues.

Join these panelists for a virtual conversation as they reflect on recent projects including Ewald's current Toward Common Cause initiative, Daily Life and Dreams in the Pandemic: Photographs by Youth in Rogers Park organized at Centro Romero in Chicago.

FREE, tune in to Lumpen Radio’s Twitch channel for the live broadcast.

This program is offered as part of Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40 and co-presented by the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, Centro Romero, and Public Media Institute. Toward Common Cause is organized by the Smart Museum of Art in collaboration with exhibition, programmatic, and research partners across Chicago. It is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Program video


Jason De León combines ethnographic, forensic, and archaeological evidence to bring to light the human consequences of immigration policy at the U.S.–Mexico border. De León is Professor of Anthropology and Chicana/o Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles with his lab located in the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. De León is Executive Director of the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP) and author of the award-winning book The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail (featuring photos by Michael Wells). He is President of the Board of Directors for The Colibrí Center for Human Rights and on the Academic Board for the Institute for Field Research, a nonprofit organization operating over 42 field schools in 25 countries across the globe. De León is a MacArthur Fellow, class of 2017. 

Wendy Ewald is a pioneer in collaborative photographic projects. Ewald’s work explores the visual imaginations of children and adults. Both Ewald and her collaborators take photos. She also encourages participants to write on or mark their negatives. With authorship and the photographer’s identity blurred, Ewald erases the line between photographer and subject.Her work encourages and engages the inner lives of her participants to explore issues of race, gender, and identity. Ewald has completed projects in Canada, Mexico, Colombia, India, South Africa, Morocco, the Netherlands, Saudia Arabia, and elsewhere. Ewald is currently collaborating with youth and staff at Centro Romero on Daily Life and Dreams in the Pandemic: Photographs by Youth in Rogers Park during which students used image-making and writing to express their inner lives and dreams, and to address issues about immigration. Resulting photographic work is currently on view in a window-front exhibition at Centro Romero (6216 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60660). Ewald is a MacArthur Fellow, class of 1992. 

Daysi Funes is Executive Director at Centro Romero, a community-based organization that serves the refugee immigrant population on the northeast side of Chicago. Our interrelated programs include the Youth Learning and Leadership Program, Family Services (encapsulating the Domestic Violence Prevention Program, the Public Benefits Program, and the New Americans Initiative), Adult Education, and Legal Services. These are essential services that support healthy personal and social development of participants. Our long-term organizational goal is to bridge a disenfranchised community of immigrants and refugees into mainstream American society as well as improving their opportunity for upward social mobility. Long-term sustainable growth of our target population will only be achieved through education, leadership development, advocacy, and service; we accordingly focus our energy on these related initiatives. 

Image: On October 8, 2020, Wendy Ewald remotely joined the opening of Daily Life and Dreams in the Pandemic at Centro Romero. Photo by Ali Stanton.