Becoming San Antonio


Generations of San Antonio citizens are honored at the DreamWeek exhibit. Photo courtesy Alfonzo Mendoza

Alfonzo Mendoza

San Antonio proudly hosts one of the most diverse week-long summits that aims to create a dialogue between different cultures and communities — DreamWeek. Many of the events include interactive art exhibits that paint the modern day vision of Martin Luther King Jr. “Becoming San Antonio: Centuries of Immigration” boldly displays the capturing stories of migration to San Antonio. The interactive exhibit curated by Michael Cirlos, author of the successful book “Humans of San Antonio,” was displayed at the Briscoe Museum of Western Art over the past week and purveyed an extremely strong message about the culture of San Antonio.

Cirlos began his academic career studying abroad at Webster University in Thailand and pursued international relations and psychology. While abroad, he found his passion for photography, crediting his fellow colleagues as one of the reasons he explored his newfound interest.

“It was meeting people abroad that were also interested in photography that encouraged me to branch out. I had a little point-and-shoot camera and we’d shoot photos. I didn’t think it would turn into a career for me, I just thought man this is so much fun,” Cirlos said.

Keeping up with his passion for photography, Cirlos recently released a book called “Humans of San Antonio,” with photos that personified the city’s culture and diversity.  The project, which took five years to complete, was inspired by “Humans of New York,” and was introduced to Cirlos by a friend while at a restaurant. Trinity University Press eventually took notice of Cirlos’ increased popularity on social media and presented him with the opportunity to turn his work into a book.

“They wanted to catalogue the images and stories I had taken over the years, and put them together in a book, ‘Humans of San Antonio,’” Cirlos said.

In relation to his commitment in the San Antonio community, DreamWeek reached out to Cirlos and asked him to create a collaborative piece that demonstrated the uniqueness and character of the city. “Becoming San Antonio: Centuries of Immigration” features many photographs and stories from the “Humans of San Antonio” book and seamlessly brings together a wide array of cultures.

Many of the week’s events, including the highly anticipated march, feature interactive art exhibits that paint the modern-day vision of Martin Luther King Jr. The display case greets patrons with an interactive touch panel that allows them to swipe through individual photos and narratives, while also presenting a time line that allows viewers to pin exactly when their family arrived in San Antonio. The exhibit showcases an extensive selection of photographs, each with a powerful backstory about the compelling lives of San Antonio migrants.

The exhibition does a wonderful job at capturing the diversity and soul of San Antonio. The photos of San Antonio immigrants past and present tell a powerful story that one must see to understand. “It’s about bringing people together and realizing, the vast majority of people in San Antonio have some sort of family lineage that comes from somewhere else,” Cirlos said. For more information about the exhibit and Cirlos, visit