Susan Sterner: Estoy Por Aquí

  • Susan Sterner: Estoy Por Aquí / I Am Here

Susan Sterner: Estoy Por Aquí

Susan Sterner

Estoy Por Aquí / I Am Here

Exhibition on View
March 14 – May 10, 2019

Opening Reception & Artist Presentation
Thursday, March 14, 5:00 p.m.

237 Mullica Hill Road, Glassboro, NJ 08028
Followed by a Reception at The Center for Art & Social Engagement
Located in Room 110 of Westby Hall


Estoy Por Aquí / I Am Here is an ongoing project exploring the challenges and contexts of women working in the informal economy of central El Salvador and the political and social upheaval that has fed a multigenerational cycle of emigration and fractured families. 

The objective of this project is to explore and deepen the narrative around working-class women of El Salvador, their roles in sustaining communities, and their connections to emigration to the United States.  In El Salvador women who earn income in the public markets and informal economy can be identified by their use of elaborate aprons. The aprons (delantales in Spanish) feature layers of ruffled or heavily embroidered lace often in flamboyant eye-catching colors and textural combinations that accentuate the curves of their bodies. These aprons signal to potential clients that the women are capable and at work. It’s as if they are wearing their business cards. The aprons are also highly functional with deep open pockets defined by the lacey facades, as well as hidden compartments used to hold identity cards, receipts or cash.

The work of the market women at the center of Estoy Por Aquí / I Am Here, and women like them across El Salvador keeps parts of the lower economic sectors from complete marginalization and subsistence-level living. These women fluidly redefine family and care for the young and the elderly as members of the community are targeted by gang violence and forced to flee the region or country for safety. They play the role of protector to the youth and young adults who choose to remain but are cut off from resources like education, employment, and humane health care. These are the women who stay behind, who hold it together.


Susan Sterner is an educator and documentary photographer. She started her career as a photojournalist freelancing with national and international publications while based in New Orleans, La. She worked for the Associated Press as a staff photographer, based in Mississippi and California. With the AP she covered domestic issues such as immigration, child labor, and families in poverty as well as U.S. border issues and social change in Haiti. A two-year fellowship with the Institute of Current World Affairs sent Ms. Sterner to Brazil to photograph and write about women’s lives and access to resources. After returning to the United States, she worked as a White House photographer, documenting the official and the behind-the-scenes life of the presidency. Since 2006 she has coordinated the undergraduate program in photojournalism, emphasizing a multimedia and multi-disciplinary approach and 2011 she developed and launched a graduate program in New Media Photojournalism at the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.


The Center for Art and Social Engagement is a new initiative of Rowan University Art Gallery at Westby Hall.

It will serve as a venue for investigating social issues through arts-based methods. Anchored by a permanent display of The Sister Chapel, a historic collaborative feminist installation, CASE draws inspiration from the cooperative spirit of the women’s art movement. Programming at CASE will encourage interdisciplinary collaborations that explore diverse and timely social issues through multidisciplinary practices. Click here to learn more about CASE or contact Mary Salvante at