About the Project:
In Mexico and Exvoto
In Mexico and Exvoto are my first two digital photography projects and were made in 2003. In Mexico are street photographs and were taken in the state of Oaxaca where a few friends and I went for a visit. I'd frequently shoot from the hip loving autofocus. While I took many photographs the images of women working or in the streets or visiting churches were the most expressive to me.
The second group of photos I call Exvoto and is a digital computer project made on my return; I used the files I shot of icons in Mexico. I was fascinated by the prevalence of the icons and also the particular choice of Mary, a sacred female, and the people's evident veneration of her. I was struck with the way signs of spiritual life were seamlessly integrated into the fabric of Mexican culture. In this series, I use digital manipulation of the image to draw attention to the way the icon is nonchalantly incorporated into common settings: everybody has an altar; it's the norm. I selected a tiny part of the digital photograph and enlarged it to enhance, through the print's pixilated surface, the icon's integration into the space surrounding it.
I spent a day alone in Mexico City to see Our Lady of Guadalupe, the famous divinely painted tilma of Saint Juan Diego. In the afternoon, I went to Diego Rivera and Frieda Kahlo's Blue House, where, via their large collection, I discovered, exvotos, little folk art paintings on tin. These show someone praying to a saint in gratitude for their help through a particular crisis. Though the paintings are small, each one includes an image of the saint, the supplicant, a depiction of the event, and the actual words of the thankful message. These public expressions of gratitude for assistance with private needs greatly inspired me. I see this project as my own personal exvoto.