An important cultural experience that heavily influenced my photography was traveling to Antigua, Guatemala in March of 2011. While there I began a portrait series of the women of a local weaving cooperative and their children. No longer surrounded by people and places I knew, I photographed the unfamiliar. Even so in these women I felt a bond. They were beautiful, each of them silently relating to me their histories through their gaze. Across cultures, and across language, I felt them. I also turned my camera lens towards the landscape. I captured the scenery which they saw everyday, yet was completely new to me. This experience not only changed how I take pictures but also how I viewed portraits.
I chose to focus on the women of this cooperative because they represent a strong female presence in their community. These women were challenging gender norms in their quest for an independent income in order to send their children to school. Education is very expensive for families in Guatemala, which is why many children do not continue attending after primary school. Without education, many assume the roles in the community that contribute to the family income. This income is particularly important to this community because these young children are now able to attend school, while their mothers had not.
It is through this work, that I wanted to focus on the relationship between these women and their children as well as the landscape that surrounded them. What made me want to explore these two subjects is my own experience. As a female artist who grew up in an all female household, I am interested in the bond between sisters and the bond between mother and daughter. I am also particularly sensitive to the trials and tribulations of the gendered experience and how we develop our sense of self within certain spaces.