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The Land of Illustrious Men

Daniel Ramos

Filter Photo is pleased to present The Land of Illustrious Men, a solo exhibition featuring the work of Daniel Ramos, curated by Paul D’Amato.


The Land Of Illustrious Men is a photo-novella of my life as a son of working-class immigrants who came to America from Mexico in search of a better life. The series offers the viewer a glimpse of the personal story of each member of my family and reveals the nature of their relationship to one another. I include my own experience – a childhood spent living between two worlds, and my decision to reject the blue-collar tradition that was to be my presumed legacy in order to become a photographer.


I was born and raised in Pilsen, a Mexican-American neighborhood on the lower West Side of Chicago. During the summers, my parents sent me to Lampazos De Naranjo, a small town in Nuevo Leon, Mexico to stay with my grandmother so I would not fall victim to the gang violence in my neighborhood. I spent every summer in Mexico until I was 18 years old. The opportunity to travel and the exposure to a foreign land provided an escape from the harsh urban environment of my daily existence.


My father always believed in hard work. He entered the United States illegally with the help of a coyote, a human trafficker. The promise of work and the hope of economic security is the reason he chose to come to the US. In 1978, my father found a position as a Handyman at Sloan Valve, a company that specializes in flushing valves. He has kept this job for 39 years. My father was very proud when I began working at Sloan as a hand polisher in 1999. During my freshman year at Columbia College, I took portraits of my coworkers at the factory for my first photo series. When this project was completed, I received a scholarship from Columbia College, which assisted me to resign from Sloan in 2001. This was a big blow to my father. He always wanted me to follow in his footsteps.


Although my journey is personal, this project is an expression of a larger story about immigration, cultural identity, assimilation, and class that is shared and felt by many.” —Daniel Ramos


About the Artist

Daniel Ramos graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Photography in 2003 and studied for an MFA at California College of the Arts in 2007.  He is the 2018 Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize winner, and his work was selected by Elizabeth Ferrer for CPW’s Photography Now 2018 exhibition. His photographs from the Sloan Valve series are in the permanent collection of Leo Burnett Worldwide and have been published in the Center for Documentary Studies’ 25 under 25: Up-And-Coming American Photographers. Ramos was awarded the second place prize in Cuarto Oscuro magazine’s national El Tiempo competition in Mexico and completed the 2018 Artist Residency Program at The Center of Photography in Woodstock, NY. For the last three years, he has been teaching Documentary photography at L.C.I. in Monterrey, Mexico.  Ramos will have his first solo show for his series, The Land of Illustrious Men, at Filter Space in Chicago, IL in 2019. The series was featured in NY Times Lens and PDN Edu.

On View: July 12 – August 10, 2019

Location: Filter Space | 1821 W Hubbard St, Suite 207

This exhibition was partially sponsored by The Illinois Arts Council Agency and a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

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