Updated images for thesis plus Artist Statement
I have never developed a photo in a darkroom. I was raised in the era of digital photography and feel like the process of taking a photo, uploading it, and making quick changes in Photoshop is unsatisfying because I have been drawing for a long time and think of drawing as a more active and physical process. I want to find the satisfaction I get from drawing in my photographic process, so I have spent the last few years experimenting with ways to combine photography and drawing.
I begin by drawing on a transparency that I place over my printed photo. The drawing emerges as a reaction to the photo, the pose, and my relationships with my models. I eventually scan the transparency so I can superimpose the line drawing onto the photograph using Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
Shortly after I began this work, I discovered the artist Dr. Lakra, a Mexican tattooist who superimposes tattoo designs on found objects. Ideas from his work inevitably trickled into my thesis. My drawings are much different than his; I am influenced by indigenous art forms from Mexico, Central, and South America that I render in a contemporary way, that borders between tattooing and graffiti.
This work has been driven by my search for a meaningful balance between these media as well as my need to stay true to my subject matter. I am interested in documentary photography, so it is important for these images to remain realistic. I see the photographs as documents, and the drawings add another layer of interpretation. Rather than including text to describe my work, I hope my drawings suggest ideas that might otherwise be explained through text.
I am aiming to explore the identity of Latinos without offending or misrepresenting them. These images show pride—an element I see missing in the popular portrayals of Latinos. The current anti-immigrant climate in the U.S. can complicate the question of pride for Hispanics. But I also hope this work speaks beyond the issue of immigration.