COLUMBIA — A series of photographs stretch along a corridor in the Columbia Public Library. From the grayscale portrait of steely-eyed coal miners to the hand-painted signs over the shops on Cherokee Street in St. Louis, these vignettes form a visual history of Missouri's vibrant immigrant communities.
"The Missouri Immigrant Experience: Faces and Places" photo exhibit will be on display at the Columbia Public Library from April 5 to 25. The gallery features the work of photographers Juan Montana, Rita Chu, Amela Sinanagić and Oscar Pedroza.
The featured photographs come from a larger collection of more than 70 works curated by the Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates. In addition to more contemporary material, the gallery includes historical photographs that go back more than 100 years.
According to Montana, who serves on the board of the Missouri Immigration and Refugee Advocates and whose works are among those featured, the purpose of gallery is to give the history of immigration in Missouri a public space. Montana hopes his photographs help form a tighter community by familiarizing others with immigrants and their culture.
"This exhibit is for everyone," Montana said. "For the immigrants as a celebration of ourselves and for others to examine their own identity and immigrant roots."
The gallery serves as a way to create a more welcoming environment for Columbia's immigrants and refugees.
"This is a great opportunity to reach out to our immigrant and refugee community who may not be aware of the library yet," said Patricia Miller, adult services manager for the Columbia Public Library.
The show will open at 10 a.m. Saturday with exhibit curator Danny Gonzalez hosting a reception and gallery walk until 12:30 p.m., sharing the stories behind many the photographs.
The library will also screen the documentary "Welcome To Shelbyville" at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. A panel discussion will follow the screening.
Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.