Learn More: Roots in California Exhibition

Roots in California: Concepts of Home

Roots in California: Concepts of Home compares and contrasts historical and contemporary definitions of home. The exhibition focuses on the complex idea of home utilizing oral histories of Mexican and Mexican American tenants of Rancho Los Cerritos between 1890 and 1930 with five stories of Mexicans and Mexican Americans living in California today.


These stories help us to reflect upon the Ranchos’ role in the vast expansion of California.

By recounting their memories of growing up and/or residing in the Rancho adobe house, the tenant’s oral histories offer insight into their daily lives and their concepts of home. These histories provide a connection to contemporary Mexicans and Mexican Americans and their concepts of home.


Some people perceive home as a physical place, where they grew up. For others, the family and those they share their lives with are what makes them ‘feel at home’. The taste of food, beloved objects, and fond memories, are other ways that people define what home means to them.


Ideas of home became more complicated, both at the Rancho and throughout the Western United States. The social, economic, and political changes caused by the Mexican American War (1846–1848) and the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), impacted the stability of Mexicans and Mexican Americans. Mexican and Mexican American families were displaced from their homes, and migration between the Mexico and the U.S. increased. During the following years, the U.S. established labor, immigration, and education policies that challenged these families and their concepts of home. These policies led them to be perceived as second-class citizens and utilized as inexpensive labor.


How has history influenced your perception of home?

The Rancho Los Cerritos Visitor Center is a gathering space created by artist Gloria Sanchez. Guests visiting the exhibition are welcome to sit, rest, and feel at home in the space.

RLC asked the artist to develop a space where people could feel welcomed, safe, and comfortable to share their own perceptions and meaning of home. Gloria was asked to represent the complex and at times difficult relationships between Rancho Los Cerritos and the communities it strives to represent. Gloria reached out to members of the community on Instagram and asked people to send her their photos of “home”.

Gloria expands the concept of the exhibition and asked the question, “is home a place, your significant other, your garden, your animal relatives, your bed, your fruit trees? Is it a particular feeling?”

What does home mean to you?