In the Times of Rona is a linguistic-based concept that narrates the experience of working-class people during the Covid19 pandemic. The inspiration came from my own isolation and contemplation during the Coronavirus. As a natural observer of life, I was curious about what was actually happening to other people. Sympathetic to everyone’s coping process, I began to ask friends and people online about their real-world experiences. It took me a few weeks to build up the courage to step outside the house and engage with someone else. Once I was able to overcome my own fears, I began to feel empowered by everyone’s story and courage.
The literal subject matter is portraits of people living in Los Angeles, photographed wearing a face mask, white background, and a personal note that explains their current thoughts. In addition to the fears of the virus, isolation is heavy on people and their mental health. By including their notes, we get a glimpse of their current state of mind. The project is documenting business owners, vendors, artists, the unemployed, and healers.
I simulated the polaroid frame because it gives an instant feel, similar to my photoshoots with the subjects. During my engagement with every subject, I have used gloves and a mask for my protection and theirs. I appreciate their vulnerability and trust, the process of photographing them has helped us cope with our own fears and thoughts for the future. By sharing our stories we begin to heal from the crisis that is affecting everyone in one way or another.
The intent is to communicate the new normal, their thoughts, and shared experiences. By using a white background, each image has a shared environment that is intended to look clinical. The subjects posed using a frontal position or a three-quarter shot to engage the viewer in a visual dialog. Clothing is important as it communicates class and culture. Through these elements, we know who these people are and reveal the essence of the subject. The pandemic has impacted every subject emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Body language is a key element that expresses their emotional state. In addition, their notes are a timestamp that is both reflective and provides context.
The intended outcome is for the viewer to connect and relate to a shared experience. While the pandemic has isolated and disconnected many people physically, individualizing our experiences; In the Times of the Rona humanizes our collective experience empowering us to stay connected and keep moving forward. While Covid19 might be something we will have to live with until there is a cure, we should admire our own resilience. Each subject has its own mechanism for self-care. The work is meant to tell a story and build from each other shared experience but most importantly for future generations to learn from.
Concrete Indigenous is a lyrical documentary of environmental portraiture of Chicanos indigenous people. In the project, I explore the life of indigenous people living in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The project is intended to expand the conversation regarding Chicano’s of indigenous descent; to communicate the intersectionality of Chicano identity and their relationship to their environment.
As a first-generation immigrant of Mexico and someone who has embraced the term Chicano, my interest in exploring the intersectionality of Mexican Americans in the United States arise from textbooks regarding the Chicano Movement of the 1970s. The crux of the project is based on Chicano’s who embrace their indigenous makeup.
Each photograph is printed in a8x10 format. The size is unique, giving emphasis on the subject and environment. The project is photographed using a Fuji X100F camera because it is a lightweight camera that is ideal for environmental portraiture. Watch my video for more information on the project.
The Broadway Project is a photo documentary that narrates the stories of residents in South Central Los Angeles. The work is motivated by the testimonies and history of 3rd, second and first-generation African Americans and Latinos living on Broadway. In learning and exploring the accounts of these individuals, we find the in-depth climate of trauma, addiction, and resilience. The Broadway Project is an attempt to highlight the stories of these dynamic residents by documenting the history, changes, and its relationship to their neighborhoods.
The inspiration for the project came to me after reading “City of Quartz” by Mike Davis. In the book, he vividly describes Los Angeles County through the history of the people that have shaped the city. In the project, I attempted to take a discovery investigative approach to history and document this iconic street. I intended to photograph the neighborhoods, by walking through one of the oldest streets in town (built in the 19th century) approximately 18 miles in length from north to south. In the process so far, one particular area of Broadway caught my attention, due to its demographics and characteristics; beginning my four-year documentation of the street.
Resident with a bluntSince the legalization of marijuana in California, Broadway has seen many dispensaries pop-up on every other corner. Many dispensary only last about a month before they are taken down or move.
Between north of Imperial and south of Florence on Broadway, is a community of black and brown residents in South Central District 9 and 8. These communities have created a vibrant multi-cultural environment that is purely black and brown, truly South Central. While black residents are moving out to the suburbs, others are being displaced due to anti-black policies such as gentrification. Equally important are the Latinos who migrated to South LA because of civil war in their homeland– they are economic refugees looking for a better place for their families, as they make Los Angeles their home. Regardless of the circumstances, both communities confront the same hardships– the homelessness crisis with a lack of initiatives from their city council members, there is a landscape of violence impacting students, commuters and residents and both black and brown residents live in the hub where heroin is accessible.
While these issues are not new to any U.S. city, the Broadway Project empowers the strength of residents who have not benefited from any community investment, yet continue to find the means to heal and grow. Through all the challenges these residents face, there is still resilience and beauty built through shared experience.
77th Street Area 1st Summer Carnival Two cyclist, two pigeons.Cycling is a means for transportation in South Central. Resident cyclingResident cycling on 83th street and Broadway with a Church Chickens bag. Big Dee from Bikes of ColorBig Dee from Bikes of Color. Bikes of Color is a bike club with both Bloods and Crip gang members. OGOG is a homeless veteran who does handyman work in the community. Before moving to Broadway he was cast in a Movie called Imperial Dreams. 2017 Two burn storage containers Ghost Bike of James Findley.Ghost Bike of James Findley. Findley was killed in a hit in run on February 11th, 2019. He was 54 years old. Fernando Fernando is the owner of Tacorin, a known restaurant for its hand made tortillas. ChrisChris is an employee of AV Mini market. EdwardEdward aka Hamburguesa making a slider. Edward recently set up shop after his grandmother passed away. His grandmother would go to church nearby, his hopes is to connect with the community she was a part of. Ice MikeIce Mike is a veteran and original gangster. He daily helps his friends set up shop and vendor on the streets. 2017 Dog in a gardening truck Dog peeing by a treeBroadway has a one mile street divider with trees. Resident use this place for walks and shelter.