Good news this morning: my summer artist residency application in Havana, Cuba was ✨ACCEPTED✨! I will be spending the first half of July working on a photo project that has been simmering on the back burners of my mind for the last 3 years since my mother passed. I want to develop a series of photographs and text for a photo book about identity, place, and loss and I’m looking forward to immersing myself in work and the motherland.
A big thank you to everyone who came out to the opening reception of Borderlands Within, an exhibition for Tanya Aguiñiga & AMBOS‘ work at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena. It was so wonderful to see so many warm, familiar faces. Thank you for helping us celebrate the culmination of 4 years of hard work on the US-Mexico border.
The exhibit is now open to the public until August 2020 — go check it out while you can.
I’m including a few photos from the event, below!
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.
It’s going on 5 months, and I still wish I had words big enough to express how I am feeling, even today. I still feel so lost and so deeply sad, but I don’t want to let my mother’s passing fade away without speaking up.
Are you ready for this prom wedding that I shot last August?! My goodness, I had so much fun photographing this party. I always appreciate when people think “outside the box” and really, your wedding should be anything and everything you want it to be. With Christy and Stuart, they did just exactly that. I believe first and foremost that you make the rules of the party, and I’ll be as happy as a clam to photograph exactly how it went down. Promise.