Aker Imaging Gallery opening reception: Francisco Blasco: A Child Of The Steel Mills
Aker Imaging Gallery presents the early work of Francisco Blasco. His work is a vivid portrait of life in the immigrant communities of East Chicago in the early 1970s.
It was a big change in 1960 for a 6-year-old American born, but young boy who had been living in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, to move to the steel mill towns of East Chicago. All newly arrived immigrants lived in East Chicago when they moved into the region of Northwest Indiana. They came looking for the American Dream and safety, food and shelter for their family. This is where is Francisco learned the price of steel runs deep.
The mills gave the uneducated a standard of living above the national average, even above degreed professionals. Laborers were paid four times the minimum wage. Workers got the best insurance and doctors that money could buy. Union workers received unprecedented job security with equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, sex, disability and age. Jobs were based on seniority and skill. The steel mills provided possibilities for his family.
Blasco's images, taken when he was in his late teens to early 20s, show not only the good times but also the horror of the steel and asbestos. A little boy is showing his muscles in front of the TV, a loving kiss to a father in a casket, a politician speaking, the snowstorm aftermath, happy teenagers, a play about the cancer ravaging the families and finally, an old lady feeding birds are among the iconic images showing life among the immigrants just trying to survive the hardships of life in the steel towns.