The city, in tandem with the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), will be presenting a rare exhibition Sunday, Aug. 29, with artworks from the young migrant children who were housed at a temporary shelter set up in the Long Beach Convention Center from April 22 to July 23.
A total of 1,538 children passed through the Downtown center until being reunited with family or a sponsor, one of several sites across the country used to temporarily house youth as the number of children arriving at the border with Mexico swelled beyond the capacity of government facilities.
The center was shut down a week ahead of schedule. The children left behind many of their arts and crafts, drawings, and other creative memorabilia.
These include a “shelter logo” designed and voted on by the children, later included in all staff badges; drawn posters from a mock council election, led by a 6-year-old council “president”; paper-sized (8×11) drawn pieces depicting what their time in Long Beach meant to the children; and one collective art piece created by the shelter staff.
Perhaps the most inventive and proof of childlike ingenuity is a collection of body-sized dresses made with recycled items several of the girls made as part of a fashion show. It was mostly girls, ages 5 and older, who were living at the shelter during those three months.
“These children have gone through so much hardship,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “They are smart, creative and their inspiration shines through in their beautiful artwork.”
The city said in its release that most kids stayed an average of no longer than 19 days, but immigrants rights activists raised many concerns about how long kids have stayed at these temporary shelters and how they are being treated. Though Long Beach was deemed one of the better-run centers, a court declaration from one girl, a 17-year-old, said it was difficult getting clean clothes, staying warm and sleeping because the lights were always on. She had spent about 30 days there.
“I am really sad being here,” the unnamed girl said.
The exhibition will only be available for viewing at MOLAA Sunday, Aug. 29 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
MOLAA is at 628 Alamitos Ave.