BRIGHTON PARK — A Southwest Side photographer wants to offer more public art to neighbors and encourage aspiring photographers to take snapshots of their own communities.
Eduardo Cornejo, of Gage Park, is the photographer behind Momentos Distintos — “unique moments” — a small, outdoor installation at Esperanza Health Centers’ Brighton Park location, 4700 S. California Ave.
The installation features four photos printed on metal sheets, named ¿En Rumbo A?, Teatro Triste, Paso a Paso and La Conversación. The snapshots feature a man waiting for a bus, an abandoned theater at 59th Street and Kedzie Avenue, people walking into a corner store and a candid shot of people during a summer art program.
“Sometimes we walk through life not paying attention to what is around us — the beauty in the ‘simple’ things,” Cornejo wrote on a plaque introducing the installation. “Stuck staring at the glowing screen in the palm of our hand — we often overlook and forget to appreciate what we have.”
Each photo was shot on the Southwest Side, which was intentional, Cornejo said. He’s been taking photos since he was a teen, and said it was important for him to document his neighborhoods because he sometimes found himself primarily traveling to the North Side or Downtown to shoot.
“Why don’t I document my own neighborhood?” Cornejo said. “You know, I started questioning, like, ‘Why do I feel the need I can only document certain parts of the city, and not where I’m from, not my home and not what I’m used to?'”
Cornejo also said it was significant to title the exhibit and pieces in Spanish as a nod to his heritage.
“As I’ve been getting older, I’ve just been like reclaiming more, questioning the assimilation that sometimes we kind of go through, just speaking for myself,” Cornejo said.
Cornejo was awarded a $5,000 grant through the city’s Artist Response Program in partnership with the Greater Southwest Development Corporation, which covered all the material and labor costs for the exhibit. He was able to install the photos outside the clinic from his connections working with the Gage Park Latinx Council and Esperanza.
“Esperanza’s been awesome, they’ve been really helpful in the community,” Cornejo said. “I love the architecture of this building, too. It’s something that I’ve never seen on the Southwest Side, and I hope we get more buildings like this.”
Esperanza founder and CEO Dan Fulwiler said the community garden outside the Brighton Park clinic is intended to be a “place of reflection and beauty.”
“Esperanza is proud to partner with Eduardo Cornejo in validating the beauty of our neighborhoods and having it displayed for our staff, patients and community members to enjoy,” Fulwiler said in a statement.
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