Danielle and Laurie (Phoenix Women's March)

Danielle and Laurie (Phoenix Women's March)

What's your name and why are you here? 

"My name is Laurie, and I'm here with my daughter today because we have unfinished business. My husband asked me today if this was about Trump, and I said it's not about him. It has nothing to do with him. This is about women in the 70s who didn't get equality. This is about women in the 1900s who were fighting to get the right to vote. This is about Rosie the Riveter that won the damn war for this country and then was sent back into the kitchen. This is about every woman and all the people in this country who need to see the fight for equality."

"Danielle, and I'm here today for a multitude of reasons. First which, just to stand in solidarity with other women. I think we're in a new wave of feminism and we really have to stand together, and then yeah, just in general, I don't think it's a legitimate presidency for a multitude of reasons and additions, so just here to stand together with everyone out here who wants a better future."

Read More

BOOK + PRINT SALE WITH A PURPOSE

This blog post was originally published on aftrart.com.

Late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, I wrote Artists: a Call to Arms.

This was my gut reaction to the 2016 US Elections.

The next couple days were a blur. I felt sick, exhausted, emotional, scared, confused, frustrated, lost. And a big part of me still does.

I can’t say that I’ve completely come to terms with all that’s happening in our country right now.

Who knows how these next four years will play out. My guess is that it’s not going to be easy. We’re going to have to fight hard to keep some of the rights we’ve won over the past eight years, and fight even harder to win the rights that are still technically on the table (or keep getting brought back to the table).

But like I said on Wednesday, artists can make a difference.

We can participate in the conversation and we can find ways to form new dialogues.

We can connect communities and bring people together.

And hopefully we can help each other feel a little more safe, find ways to heal, and take steps to move forward.

I’m Trying to Look Ahead

I’ve always had questions about the world around me, and I use art as a way to explore the different facets of my identity, my community, and my environment. This has lead me to make work that examines social issues, many of which feel concerningly relevant as January 20th, 2017, Inauguration Day, approaches.

My goal has always been to bring awareness to the causes that I care about, and it’s rare that I ever try to make money off of my projects.

I make art because I have to. It’s allows me to talk to people about the problems I see and communicate my ideas and emotions more effectively.

But somehow, I never knew how I could make a bigger impact until recently.

A talented, inspiring, and insightful friend, Charissa Lucille, shared an article about artists selling their work and donating the proceeds to organizations. And my initial thought was, “that’s amazing, I wish I could do that.”

And then…I realized I could!

Buy Some Art & Make a Difference

I’ve made work about young motherhoodgrowing up in a bordertown, and living in the Colorado Rockies. And although each project began because I wanted to interpret my own experiences through photography, I realize that they each relate to three major issues that are in the public consciousness right now.  

Women’s Rights

This was a whirlwind of an election year, but one thing was clear: many politicians thing that women’s bodies (and their ability to make choices in their own interest) is up for debate.

Additionally, our country will soon be lead by a man that has 12 sexual harassment and assault accusations against him; our legislature has been trying to defund Planned Parenthood for years; and we just witnessed one of the most well-qualified presidential candidates of all time (and a woman) loose because of an antiquated voting system.

I think it’s fair to say that I’m pretty nervous about the years to come. Which is why I want to help strengthen the organizations that are fighting for our rights.

To do so, I’m selling the remaining 17 copies of Young Mothers: Photographs and Interviews, and 75% of the proceeds will go to the organization of the buyer’s choosing.

This book was originally created for my Young Mothers exhibition in 2015, a body of work about women who had children before reaching adulthood. Through this project, I had the opportunity to share how each mother found the strength to overcome obstacles and care for her family, regardless of age.

In this handmade book, you’ll find 12 photographs and accompanying stories, as told by each mother. I’ve selected a few organizations that are reflective of the conversations that surround Young Mothers, but I welcome you to write in your own, and I’ll make sure $30 is donated on your behalf.

Environmental Issues

Most of us agree that global warming is a thing, and a problematic one at that.

But unfortunately, that’s not the case for our president elect…

Humans have done a lot of damage to this planet, and we can’t turn back the clock. But we can focus on building a sustainable future.

Moving to Colorado was a huge eye-opener for me. I’ve grown up in desert cities all of my life. I’m used to staying in air-conditioned rooms and driving everywhere I go to avoid the heat. While I’ve always understood the great importance of decreasing our dependence on nonrenewable resources and reducing waste, living in an entirely new environment just outside the White River National Forest gave me a new perspective.

To that effect, I’ve selected 5 photographs from my Between Mountains series to be a part of a limited edition of 50 prints that will raise money for organizations engaged in environmental research, activism, and legislation.

Like the Young Mothers book, buyers will get to choose which organization they’d like their donation to go to, but the amount donated varies depending on the price paid for the print. 

Immigration Rights & Reform

I grew up in Yuma, Arizona, where many people are directly affected by immigration issues. I’ve had friends and family who have had to wait years to gain their citizenship. I’ve witnessed the fear and anxiety strict border policies can cause in a community.

U.S. Citizen or not, every person deserves basic human rights. And a wall isn’t going to fix anything.

Our country needs immigration reform, but not the kind that will cause more deaths, tear more families apart, fuel racism, and shatter dreams.

To raise money for the organizations that are working to defend and protect immigrants, I’ve selected 5 images from my ongoing Yuma project to include a limited edition of 50 prints. Again, buyers get to choose which organization they’d like to contribute to, and the price they can pay.

PRINT PRICING

There have been times where I found myself wanting to support an artist or a cause, but lack the funds to do so.

Typically, if I were showing in a gallery or trying to support myself off of this work, I’d price 8×10 inch prints consistently at $60.

But right now, I want to encourage participation and start conversations.

So in the hopes that more people can get involved, I’ve offered a few different pricing options. You can purchase a print for as little as $20 and up to $60.

Here’s how it breaks down:

CHART.001.jpg.001.jpg

The money that isn’t donated will go to the cost of materials, and anything left will be reinvested into my upcoming projects.

I encourage you to pay what you can, because the more money we can raise, the more good we can do, right?

PRINT SELECTION

I think of this a combined limited edition of 50 total prints. But really, there are 5 unique photos selected per body of work, and each of those photos are printed 10 times.

Given the way this is set up, I can’t guarantee that you’ll get the photo you wanted, but I’ll be diligent about removing photos that have sold out.

However, you’ll have an opportunity to select your preferences before you checkout, and I promise I won’t send you duplicates if you want to buy multiple prints!

I designed the editions this way to make this more about supporting the causes we care about rather than being about art and money. And hopefully you like my work enough that it doesn’t really matter!

Ready to get started?

I'm done being silent.

I’m quiet. Sometimes I’m so quiet it nauseates me.

It’s not because I don’t have something to say. Most of the time I just get lost in my own thoughts. I don’t know where to start. And then I miss my chance.

But if I stay quiet–if we all stay quiet–we come closer to losing our humanity. 

silence-black-lives-matter

I hate waking up every morning to the latest tragedy.

I hate coming home from work to learn about the newest mass shooting. That another rapist gets an easy sentence. That a new law was passed that infringes on the fundamental rights of women or the LGBTQ community. That black Americans are publicly executed by law enforcement on a regular basis.

Here..in the "land of the free." 

I spend hours reading, crying, trying to figure out what I can do to make a difference.

But never say a thing. 

I could write novels based on my thoughts and opinions about the hostile state of the country I live in, but tonight all that I can think about are the tragedies that are have happened over that last few days in Minnesota, Louisiana, Atlanta, and Dallas.

And I’ve realized that my silence is actively causing harm.

My silence–our silence–allows a system of violence and hate against minorities, particularly black citizens, continue.

I can no longer allow myself to accept fear as an excuse.

As an educated Mexican-American woman, I’ve found myself becoming complacent in my own minority status. I go to work, I come home to my white boyfriend and my dog, I grab dinner or a drink with my friends, I occasionally endure a subtle sexist or racist comment...but that’s about it.

Though I consider myself privileged in many ways, my appearance doesn’t provide the sense security that I can only imagine whiteness does. And as a woman, I don’t always feel safe in my own skin. But these concerns don’t control my every move. I know I’m not going to be killed simply because of how I look.

And I know that wouldn’t be the case if I were black.

I’ve thought about joining a local protest or a march. But fear takes over: what if an altercation breaks out... if it does, my life could be at risk; clearly I'm not white, so I'm probably not safe... is this my fight to die for?

Looking back, I feel stupid. When I actually outline those thoughts, I know I've been making excuses. The answer is clear–of course it’s my fight. I’m a U.S. citizen. There is something critically wrong with our system. 

I mean, if I don’t feel safe, I can’t even begin to imagine the suffering and fear that black Americans experience on a daily basis.

So this is my first baby-step towards taking action. I can’t make a difference on my own, but I honestly believe that we can make a difference when we stand together.

I just hope that writing this will help other people like me–complacent, scared, generally quiet people–understand what’s at stake, and encourage them to do more than like an article on Facebook or a #blacklivesmatter tweet.

Whether we contact our congress (as suggested by Queen Bey), donate to the families that will soon be bury their loved ones, or attend a Black Lives Matter event, we can make a difference. We can educate ourselves, empower each other, demand justice, and strive for equality.

 

An Impromptu Homework Assignment: Cypress HomeCare Solutions

Three weeks ago I had an interview with Cypress HomeCare Solutions and was asked to write about my experience. I always try to find ways to bring creativity to everything I do, so I was pretty excited to describe my thoughts about the meeting. While I've decided to accept another offer, I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet the amazing people at Cyrpess.


Have you ever felt that you were exactly where you were supposed to be at a critical point in your life?  That, no matter the outcome, what happened to you in that moment was going to help define you and change the way you envision your future? Never would I have guessed that, after sending out dozens of applications, a craigslist ad that I responded to on a whim would bring me to this juncture. After a brief phone call with the manager of the company that posted the ad, I realized that this opportunity strongly aligned with my values and goals, but I still didn’t realize its full significance. Days later, I sat in the lobby of Cypress HomeCare Solutions watching a video about customer experiences with the company, nervous and excited for my interview.

 Within minutes of my conversation with Bob, the manager, I knew that he was in the business of doing something immensely important in lives of people all around us, and that he was driven to follow this path because of his genuine compassion for individuals in need. Cypress HomeCare Solutions was built to support people through some of the most difficult points in their lives, either as a child who is unsure how to help an aging parent, or as a senior that can no longer go about his or her day alone. He described struggles that Cypress clients face, ranging from lack of mobility, illness, loneliness, and more. I learned from the lobby’s video that he was not only speaking on behalf of his clients, but also from his own experience caring for his mother—a fact I particularly connected with because I understand how family can inspire big ideas from my time working on my honors thesis, Young Mothers.

 While we talked, I quickly realized that I was interviewing for much more than a job; It was a chance to impact people’s lives, to generate conversation around issues that society is relatively silent about, and to contribute my creativity to an incredible team that makes positive change in families throughout the Phoenix Valley. Our exchange was casual for an interview; Bob didn’t ask the usual series of interrogations like, “Where do you see yourself in __ years”, “Why do you think you are the best person for the job”, or the ever-puzzling, “what is your biggest failure?” Our conversation ventured into more personal anecdotes that painted a picture of me as a human being rather than an employee, something that I hope worked in my favor given the sensitivity that is required for the position. I was surprised when Bob asked me to write about the interview, but my shock quickly dissolved into optimism as I realized that I could express the depth to which I valued the work that he’s doing at Cypress in writing. Shortly after, he introduced me to Erin to continue my interview.

 Erin is the kind of person that stands out of the crowd because she radiates warmth and a sense of purpose. She spoke of the complexities of caregiving with the utmost empathy. As she talked about the pain families go through watching a loved one reach the end of their lives, I remembered being ten years old, standing in a room at Yuma Regional Medical Center with my family, tears pouring and emotions elevated. My great-grandmother lost a short but intense battle with stomach cancer and we stood with her as the doctors took her off life support. When Erin talked about the AlzBetter program, I thought about my aunt who used to send me dolls and craft supplies even after months without contact.  Now when I visit, she still tells me how beautiful and kind I am, but she can no longer remember my name or our relation. Erin said, “death is not pretty…It’s something people don’t want to think about,” and I completely understand why. It is hard to say goodbye, and it’s hard to do it alone. But I agree with Erin in believing that there’s a better way to get to this point, one which Cypress embodies every day. As a society, we need to be present for our aging generations, especially because we all have loved ones that will reach this point. While we may not see them every day, we need to respect their existence because they are still very much alive. If we work to find new ways to support families in this stage and open up a dialogue about the universal experience of aging, we will be more prepared to provide a better quality of life for all.

 Yesterday I remembered why I’ve developed an unusual set of skills—a combination of art making, design, communication, and service; It is so that I can tell complex stories and engage people in meaningful dialogue about issues that communities face. Whether or not I am offered the job, I am grateful that Bob, Erin, and everyone at Cypress HomeCare Solutions is working incredibly hard to make people’s lives better. In the brief time that I spent with them, I left feeling truly inspired with a renewed sense of hope and direction as I pursue to make positive change in the world around me.

Thoughts on Photography (Part 4: Conclusion)

A few years ago, I wrote about my relationship to photography for a class called Photography and Language with Bill Jenkins. I recently found the essay, and remembered how important it was for me to think through my practice as an artist. Following is the conclusion to a 4 part essay. Please see Parts 1, 2, and 3, for reference.


Photography is an interesting form of representation in that it has imbedded itself into society. It is, in itself, social. We use it to communicate with each other. We use it to share ideas. We hope it is honest, just as we hope we are honest with each other. We look at photographs to understand what we cannot experience in person. We use it to connect on a very human level. Photography  does not represent the world; photography represents the world that at some point in time, in some place, once was. It is of the world, and the only thing that prevents us from using a photograph as a means to connect with each other are the constructs we place it in.

No, I am not the sole owner of any photograph I produce. No, I cannot change the world with an image. However, I realize now that by not inhibiting my photographs, not fusing them to any single method of output or explaining their meaning, I am letting them communicate. I am offering a representation of an experience that I had, at some point in time, to another human being. I cannot guarantee anyone will respond to my photographs the way I do, but I know that I am not preventing anyone from doing so, and that, I think, is enough.