Written by on May 28, 2014

Objects of Affection: Looking at the Diverse History of the Central Coast

Through stories, pictures, songs, performances, love letters and a rich family history, Objects of Affection shows us what life was like for diverse families on the Central Coast.

The “Objects of Affection” exhibit draws upon the personal papers of families featured in the Re/Collecting Project (RECO), an online archive and ethnic studies memory project featuring  families of California’s Central Coast. The project is directed by Dr. Grace Yeh, associate professor of ethnic studies at Cal Poly.

“These stories can’t be found in archives. They are personal stories and family photos,” Grace said.

The reception

Brianti Williams sings at the reception

Brianti Williams sings at the reception

The reception for the the exhibit on May 23 featured performances by students, authentic Filipino food and a chance to meet some of the families that are featured  in the exhibit.

“It was a really big honor to share the stories of those families and invite the campus to meet those families,” said Catherine Trujillo, the exhibit’s curator.

Brianti Williams, a Cal Poly student, sang a Filipino love song called “Dahil sa’yo” (Because of You). We also got to hear from Grace during the reception.

“I’m in awe by the turnout,” Grace said.

The exhibit as collaboration

Grace started working with Catherine about a year ago to develop the exhibit. Students also worked on the exhibit. The traveling exhibit structure for Filipino Love Stories was designed by architecture students Carla Bernal and Adriana Duarte. They were assisted by Mechanical Engineering student Charlie Refvem, for the fabrication. Ragini Sahai, an art and design student, worked on the graphic design.

See students at work in this quick video:


The exhibit was done in collaboration with Ethnic Studies Department, Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies Program (LAES), MultiCultural Center and the Filipino American National Historical Society, California Central Coast Chapter (FANHS CCCC).

“We brought in new and old ways of communication to show of the themes of this exhibit,” said Vanessa Carranza, a LAES student.

For example, there was a typewriter station where people could type up a love letter and post it on the wall right next to it. There was also a listening panel where people could hear love songs that the couples featured in the exhibit used to sing to each other.

People interact with the exhibit

People interact with the exhibit

“We saw that students in particular were drawn to old ways of communicating,” Vanessa said.

More about Objects of Affection

“This exhibit looks at the personal stories from the diverse communities and families on the Central Coast to try and find common threads,” said Catherine.

Many families were separated from one another and faced social and legal exclusion. Because of these obstacles, they created deep community bonds and friendships with each other.

The exhibit will be here until June 6 so you have plenty of time to check it out! It is located on the second floor, near the fishbowls.

See more photos from the exhibit on Flickr.

Read more on Cal Humanities, Catherine Trujillo, Ethnic Studies Department, Filipino American National Historical Society, Grace Yeh, LAES, Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies Program, Multicultural Center, and objects of affection.

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