in front of the camera

the heart of it

deerheart thumball my life i have not loved the camera. as a child i was always the one making the weird face in photographs. my mother loved to tell me ‘you’re not ugly.’ but there was something in her voice that made me only hear the word ‘ugly.’

my face felt highly vulnerable to me. exposed. telling stories that i didn’t understand and couldn’t control. my face has been such a source of lesson for me that my art practice developed as a place to claim my face, my existence, my experience. working in the classroom my personal art practice translated into a curriculum to support children like i was to claim their face, claim themselves.

my face is my country, my home, where i belong, even where i come from. round, chicana, femme. i try to show my face even though it’s still not my favorite thing to do. because today at the kidquake event, i saw what i always see when i work with kids…little girls who look just like i did, watching me. watching me closely. seeing themselves in me. seeing something new in themselves through me. i don’t take that lightly. i know all too well what it’s like to not even know that you long.

so i show my face and continue my personal practice of claiming.

this photo shoot        ordered by my new business manager was a bit mind blowing for my shy face. i did my best to just be there.

jeannies studio first time

thankfully i LOVED jeannie o’connor, the photographer and her lovely assistant, pedro. her personal work was everywhere stunning. huge photographs in architectural frames, doors, windows. we talked about india and creativity and humanness and art, queerness and galleries. i forgot i had a face. i just opened my heart, which i guess is really the point of claiming face.

jeannie and pedro
jeannie and pedro

move beyond my face into just being.

there’s no telling where all this photographing will go. i often think i’m heading in one direction only to find it was really a trick to gather more and head in another direction altogether. that’s cool. i get a kick out of it all! what i know today, is that i have a face and that’s ok. and if more chicana girls see my face, that’s ok too. so as i look at two pages of jeannie’s photos of my big, round chicana face, i open my heart and continue to claim.


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