Migrant's journey captured through art at Starting Point Community Church exhibit

It’s all in the name at Starting Point Community Church in the city’s Belmont Cragin neighborhood, where migrants have been given a ‘starting point’ in Chicago.

This weekend, one man is sharing his experience of journeying to the United States – through art.

"Their stories are phenomenal and impactful, and they have life experiences that I will never have," said Pastor Jonathan de la O, with SPCC.

It's a journey most of us could never imagine but through brushstrokes of passion and emotion, Yeison Perez is helping others understand.

Last spring, the church began to house a small group of migrants – up to 20 people at a time. There, they can find their footing, apply for asylum, seek work opportunities, and eventually locate permanent housing.

Currently, 18 individuals – including Perez – are calling the church ‘home.’ 

The 31-year-old ventured to America from Venezuela last July, enduring a treacherous journey, including a trek through the Darién Gap. 

"They put us on little boats in the middle of the night and it’s open sea for two hours, and I’ve never been more afraid in my life," said Perez.

For Perez, his love of art began when he was a young boy, and picking up a paintbrush came naturally.

"My dad was an artist, and so I inherited from him, and I found out through my dad that my great-grandfather was also an artist," said Perez.

When he opened his doors, Pastor de la O wanted people to understand the ‘why.’

"I thought art would be appealing," said de la O.

Perez got to work and spent two months painting eight pieces for the exhibit.

"He came such a long way," said de la O.

His paintings are up for silent auction and much of the money earned will be sent to his family in Venezuela.

"There’s a lot of these guys that have amazing talents and gifts and we just need to give them a chance," said de la O.

For one more day, you can tour Perez’s exhibit and bid on his artwork.

The show will be open Saturday, April 6th from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Starting Point Community Church, located at 4851 West Wrightwood Avenue.

To learn more about Starting Point Community Church and how you can give back to its mission of housing migrants, follow this link.