Logo for an art installation titles I am Here. We Ae Here. We Belong.
Graphic for I am Here. We are Here. We Belong. art installation

Illinois State University will honor National Immigrants Day with an art installation on the Quad. I Am Here. We Are Here. We Belong, will be installed around campus for 24 hours. A program offering reflection on the contributions of immigrants in American society will be at noon on October 28 on the Quad, with leaders from campus and the community, including Not in Our Town and the Immigration Project.

Archana Shekara
Archana Shekara (Photo: élan Studios)

The installation will feature flags inspired by collective input from the campus and community. Flags placed around the campus will be designed by the University’s Design Streak Studio, a research-based, social innovation lab focusing on human-centered service design.

“Our goal is to bring together voices to create a welcoming, accepting, and respectful space for immigrants,” said Creative Director of Design Streak Studio Archana Shekara, who researches cultural identity in design. Shekara is collaborating with Director of Latin American and Latino/a Studies Maura Toro-Morn for the project.

Maura Toro-Morn at her desk with books
Dr. Maura Toro-Morn

“The gathering of these flags will become a visual illustration of the force of immigration to shape the landscape of our communities, our university, our state, our nation, and our world,” said Toro-Morn, whose extensive research focusing on immigration issues includes the books Immigrant Women Workers in the Neoliberal Age and 60 Years of Migration: Puerto Ricans in Chicagoland.

To prepare for viewing the installation, students have joined listening circles focusing on the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, will meet with Not in Our Town and the University’s Organization for Latino/a Employees, and attend the Breaking Bread series through the McLean County Museum of History.

Illinois State faculty interested in joining the collaboration are invited to include immigrant issues in classroom discussion.

Illinois State faculty interested in joining the collaboration are invited to include immigrant issues in classroom discussion.

Sponsors include the Office of the President, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for Civic Engagement, the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies; the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures; the Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts, and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

“Immigrants are often times made to feel invisible and have been a target of hatred and racism in the country’s history and this xenophobia has escalated in the past few years,” said Shekara. The installation of flags—a symbol of hope and acceptance as you become naturalized— calls for unity, and the recognition of human dignity.

Those with questions can contact Shekara at ashekar@IllinoisState.edu or Toro-Morn at mitmorn@IllinoisState.edu.