Cuban Heroes (I wish I’d known as a girl): Ana Mendieta

Above image: Ana Mendieta, Film stills, Sweating Blood, 1973

Starting in July, my birth month, I will be doing a bi-monthly research exercise on “Cuban Heroes” for my blog. I believe that seeing yourself reflected in the world around you (in pop culture and beyond) is powerful, and I was starved of that privilege as a young girl navigating the white-centric suburbs of Orange County.

A bit of an introduction before beginning My mother immigrated from Cuba in the 1970s and married my father, a red headed Irish-American from Southern California. Growing up, my contact with my father’s side of the family was rare if ever, so I made sense of “family” through the connection I had to my mother’s side: my Cuban Grandmother and her sisters (my Great Aunts). I truly believe that I understand what Love is today through the love I received from the gaggle of Cuban women who raised me as a child. Looking back, when I think of “home”, I think of them, and feel them deeply in my core still. So with all that said  why is it that when I was sorting through the building blocks of my identity and searching for role models, that I looked past them and only found value and importance in white-stories by straight-white-men within the framework of white-society? In short, it is because I was a child of an immigrant, and cultural assimilation was key to my social survival. When I looked around me, those were the narratives that society held up and gave the most worth and I followed that way of thinking without ever examining why (that would come decades later). As a child and young adult, I took these adopted narratives and hid in plain sight. My fair-skin and culturally-ambiguous looks afforded me that. I thought by doing this, I was pushing myself out of the ethnic minority and giving myself a “fair chance”, a belief that is complex, problematic, and reinforced time and time again in my life.

After my mother’s passing 2 years ago, I spiraled into grief. Grieving her, and the loss of “the last” of my Cuban identity slipping through my fingers and into the ether. Never again would I feel and hear the energy and sounds of her hard Cuban-Spanish accenting my life. The audible sounds of love through language, calling for me as, “Ginita”. I think after the death of any parent, it is quite normal to question existence and ask questions of “why”, and that definitely came for me in full force and is something I still reconcile today. So — this is to honor my Mother, this is for my Grandmother and Great Aunts, but mostly this is for the little girl who needed an extra push in understanding her roots, her place and their natural value, and in turn, her natural value.

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Enjie & Andy’s Beverly Hills Courthouse Wedding

The end of 2018 brought me a few last minute Beverly Hills courthouse weddings that I was happy to document. Looking through these photos after a couple months have past has me remembering Enjie’s energy and her contagious smile, amplified by the day’s events. Congratulations guys!

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Installation Photos: Beatriz Cortez & Rafa Esparza, Nomad 13

I’m happy to share some photos I shot last month for Craft Contemporary of Beatriz & Rafa’s collaborative installation, Nomad 13, on view now through May 12th, 2019!

Los Angeles-based artists Beatriz Cortez and Rafa Esparza present the collaborative installation, Nomad 13 in the museum’s first floor. Taking the form of an unconventional space capsule built from adobe bricks and steel, the structure houses a garden of plants that are indigenous to the Americas and were cultivated by the Inca, Maya, and Aztec civilizations. The garden refers to a long history of plant migration, as well as the knowledge and technological advances of ancient peoples. In symbolically “launching” these plants into the cosmos, the artists evoke the real ongoing experiments of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) to grow food in outer space. However, with Nomad 13 the artists envision the growth of fresh food in space for the survival of indigenous knowledge and to nourish future space travelers.

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Marissa & Josh’s Mexican-American / Los Angeles-Lovin’ / Joint-Birthday Wedding!

♥︎♥︎ This wedding is after my own heart ♥︎♥︎

Marissa is a Mexican-American who grew up in Tijuana, Mexico (and now lives in Los Angeles). Her mother, father, & extended family often make the commute north and cross the US-Mexican border, and this celebration was no exception. Marissa’s birthday is on the 15th of July, and Josh’s birthday is on the 17th of July, so why not get married on the 14th and combine all the celebrating to make one perfect party? (My birthday aligned with these dates, on the 16th, which has got to activate some kind of cosmic power-party mode, right?).

Instead of one cake, they had two, and blew out their candles at midnight while holding hands, as their family and friends wore party hats and sang Feliz Cumpleaños (heart explosion -here-). AND OF COURSE there was a piñata. This was the quintessential Los Angeles wedding, which meant getting married at the Heritage Square Museum (a living history museum that explores the settlement and development of Southern California) beside a Queen Anne style Victorian home from a Los Angeles of yesteryear, and having the reception at Marissa’s sister’s artist studio alongside the LA River. Marissa grew up in Tijuana, Mexico, but has a deep affinity for LA history, which only leaves me with one question… Marissa & Josh, will you marry me? 💍

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*WINNER*: 2019 WEDDINGWIRE COUPLES’ CHOICE AWARDS!

Thank you, thank you! For the 3rd year in a row, I have been selected as one of the winners of WeddingWire’s Couples’ Choice Awards!

My clients are so good to me and their kind words blow me away every time. I am so lucky to be able to collaborate with such beautiful humans.

⚘ ⚘ ⚘ ⚘

“As both a photographer and a human, Gina is amazing. It was such a treat to fly her out to my hometown and have her capture the charm of the small coastal town where I grew up. In all honesty, I cried when I looked through our photo gallery. Our wedding venue and the surrounding area was hit hard by a hurricane just a month after our wedding, so having this moment in time—with the landscape captured so gracefully in pictures of those closest to me—is something my family and I will treasure forever. Thank you, Gina. Brian and I are so grateful.” — Lisa & Brian (married September 8, 2018 in Panama City, Florida) 

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