Art exhibit with items confiscated from illegal immigrants crossing the border coming to Saugatuck

SAUGATUCK, Mich.-- An art exhibit coming to the Saugatuck Center for the Arts shows real-life items confiscated by border patrol agents in Arizona. The items were confiscated from people crossing the border illegally and collected by a former janitor working at a customs and border patrol facility.

Regardless of political affiliation, the exhibit offers an insight into what outsiders might think would be the necessary items needed to start a new life in the United States.

There are row after row, picture after picture of mundane items like combs, tooth paste and water bottles, but also things of sentimental value like Bibles, rosaries and family photos.. All of the items were collected by Tom Keifer for his exhibit, 'El Sueño Americano', or The American Dream.

"Tom Keifer ultimately had a collection of what we might call everyday or mundane items, and then things that any of us would recognize as very personal items with great sentimental value to whoever owned them," said Kristin Armstrong, executive director of the Saugatuck Center for the Arts.

Armstrong says the items don't represent people but rather are people, since these items actually belonged to men, women and children.

“The making of a topic that seems enormous into a personal thing, I think there’s great value in that," said Armstrong.

“These are items that were packed for a one-way trip," said Armstrong. "Its a fascinating question to ask yourself what things would I pack? That’s how the title came about because this is Tom’s feeling that that’s exactly what these items represent.”

The exhibit will be at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts starting October 25 through the end of December. The photographer, Tom Keifer, will be there for a few days to interact with the visitors.

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