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SLUMA Opening Receptions

Friday, 03 September, 2021

Please join us for an opening reception for  El Sueño Americano / The American Dream: Photographs by Tom Kiefer at SLUMA from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3, at the Saint Louis University Museum of Art (SLUMA).


About the Exhibition

Tom Kiefer's exhibition El Sueño Americano /The American Dream is traveling to the Saint Louis University Museum of Art from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where it debuted on October 17, 2019.


Tom Kiefer worked part-time as a janitor at a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility near Ajo, Arizona, from 2003 to 2014. There he was struck by the personal items crucial for hygiene, protection, comfort and emotional strength which were confiscated and thrown away by border officials, who deemed them “potentially lethal” or “non-essential.”


Touched by the objects he salvaged and the stories they told, Kiefer set himself to record them through photographs that became a testament of dispossession and loss of humanity. The photographs depict wallets, letters, coins, cellphones, food, water bottles, medications, toothbrushes, soap, blankets, perfumes and toys.


The exhibition also includes recent video interviews with the artist, as well as with individuals who have crossed the southern border as migrants. A gallery guide outlines the history of US immigration policy and connects visitors to organizations that provide legal and humanitarian aid for migrants and advocate for a more humane policy at the border.


Artist Talk

A presentation by Dr. Daisy Vargas, along with a public conversation between Vargas and Tom Kiefer, is tentatively scheduled for November 6, 2021. More details will be forthcoming.


Related Publication

The exhibitions at SLUMA and MOCRA will be accompanied by a joint publication featuring works from both exhibitions, an interview with Tom Kiefer, and an essay by Dr. Daisy Vargas. It will be available for free for visitors to both museums.


About the Artist

Tom Kiefer (b. 1959, Wichita, KS) is an artist based in Ajo, Arizona. Kiefer’s photographic projects explore the infrastructure and cultural landscapes of the United States, blending fine art and documentary modes. His previous project Journey West Exhibit (2007) chronicled the landscape, structures, and cultural markers connecting the Arizona cities of Phoenix, Tucson, and Ajo.

Kiefer’s work has been exhibited across the US, including the Fuller Craft Museum in Boston, MA; the Saugatuck Center for the Arts in Saugatuck, MI; the Northlight Gallery at Arizona State University in Phoenix, AZ; ArtsXchange in St. Petersburg, FL; and ArtPrize 2018 in Grand Rapids, MI. In 2015, Kiefer was included in LensCulture's Top 50 Emerging Photographers and Photolucida's Top 50 Critical Mass lists, and has been featured in news publications nationally and internationally.


The exhibition will be on display in Aronson Gallery at Saint Louis University Museum of Art until December 31, 2021.



Also opening:


Displaced: Selections from the Permanent Collection

The Displaced exhibition examines the visual and political expression of artists who left their countries of origin, for a variety of reasons including persecution and war. The exhibition explores displacement as a catalyst for creative explorations and contributions afforded by new freedoms.


Objects I Love: Odes + Photos

Identity is created out of the materials of everyday life. This partnership between Saint Louis University and YourWords STL in Spring 2021 invited students from Saint Margaret of Scotland School and Loyola Academy to write poems about objects they love in order to explore connections between physical objects, their own developing identities, and the worlds of other students in St. Louis.


The Apostles of Jesus Christ

Located in the Collection of Western Jesuit Missions floor at SLUMA, the Apostles of Jesus Christ exhibition highlights paintings by a pupil of Rubens. The paintings are part of the collection of 52 which Father DeSmet brought to the University from Belgium in the 1830s.






Saint Louis University Museum of Art

3663 Lindell Boulevard

St. Louis, MO 63108




Parking will be available at the lot located at the intersection of Lindell and Spring Avenue.


SLUMA is now open to the public, but follows protocols set by Saint Louis University based on current guidelines from the city’s Department of Health.