Willow the Cat
There are things you just lose in life, and it seems to happen constantly. At this time I know that loss is tied deeply within this pandemic, but alongside all of the things I lost I did gain something. I work at CSUN and after spring break I began to work from home. After the first 2 weeks of self-quarantine I went and stayed with my parents and my cat. Willow was born from a neighborhood street cat that we named Siamese Cat, she was a siamese cat (she always hissed at us so we never gave her a proper name) She had 2 gray cats and a white one we named Dana, the 2 gray cat sisters we named these ones cause they were kittens and they were going to be ours. Willow and Cordelia, we were all big fans of Buffy. Cordy was the sweetest thing, she ended up getting trapped inside the car engine and when it started she got hit, we took her to the vet but it was too late she died. Willow was left and I knew she felt the loss of her sister, they were so cute together. Dana always seemed to annoy Willow. Poor Dana ended up running away and I never saw her again. My oldest sister, who was married at the time, took Will but she wasn't happy there. So Willow, came back to my parents house and came back to me. I don't know what it was but we bonded, she'd sneak into my closest and just hide out and I would hear my Dad yell "La pinché gata!!!" and I would tell her she'd have to go back outside, she'd bring me dead birds, lizards, one time she snuck into my neighbors house and took chicken thighs and left them at my door. I would hear "Amy your cats!!!!" but they didn't have that mice problem after my cats were around, so they didn't get too mad. She even brought me bread once. This last month I stayed with my parents, and Willow stayed in the back with me, she'd curl up and I'd hear the rumble of her purring. By this time my parents had grown used to Willow and even though my Dad still yelled, he told me that he was the one that made sure she ate. My Mom had lost her dog Yoshi, Willow was left and my Mom would hold her and spoil her. It was the first time I saw that she was getting older, she couldn't hear me very well she'd have to see me and then she'd come. My parents told me she was getting older and probably not going to last, and I told them she was fine. I got mad at them for telling me that, I didn't want to hear it, I didn't want to believe it. This pandemic thing has been with loss, but I spent a month with my cat and as I took care of my parents she was there taking care of all of us. I came back to LA and that was the last time we saw Willow. I had dreamt that I found her, she looked so healthy her coat was shiny, I held her and I told her I knew why she left me, she needed to get healthy. I held her and was waiting to go home, I knew I needed to show my Mom that she was ok. I think that was her telling me she was ok, for me not to worry.
I still don't want to believe that when I go home she won't be there. That I won't be able to hear her rumbling purrs. This is one of the last photos of her. Life is full of loss, but I had a lot of time with her this last month, time I wouldn't have gotten otherwise.
These images were my way of opening up, I have so much trouble explaining all of the things I feel. So many times there are just no words. There was a moment, actually much longer than a moment, that I found myself trying to fall out of love. It seemed so easy to be in it, but once it settled I seemed to be unable to escape it. I had kept writings, and journals and I poured everything out into them, the story was simple I loved someone and they didn't love me back. Yet, there was something, whatever that something was it always seemed to end up in me crying, or us yelling, but there was laughing and cooking, and learning, and friendship. So I accepted the mean words, the disappointments, the constant rejection. Tray, the model in the photo, stood in for the boy that I met that gave me a chance to open up to feel so hurt, to really remember what feeling vulnerable meant. It is such a weird thing to explain your work to the person it is all about, he read some of the journals, edited some of the photos, I never knew what he thought about it all, every time I asked he never said. And it is all too late for that now. These are some of the images from my series 909 & Heartbreak, the story about me and a boy and how I was one of many and he was only one of 2.
Coconut | Pocha | White-washed.
Whatever the title the words I have heard my entire life, that I wasn't Mexican enough. It is always a projection of their own insecurities, or at least that is what people say. I think there is truth to that, but I have certainly internalized all of the things that I am not. I am not a woman that speaks Spanish fluently, that grew up knowing what princess house, that ate traditional Mexican food, my Mexican food is the Chicano mix that to me is the best food in the world. There are so many things I am not, and it simply is what it is. I am a Pocha and I am the product of 13th & MT. Vernon. And this night that my family and I produce together is all of the things that we like and all of the things that we want Chicanx identity to be. Being a Pocha means belonging everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.
I could imagine being an artist at Casa Azul. There is so much history attached within the walls that it was an amazing experience to just be there. The area of Coyoacan is lovely. There was something familiar to it and one of my friends even messaged me to make sure to check out the area. I have always looked around me when creating, I suppose that is why I am a photographer I try to look and see and maybe things will make sense. I wondered how the area shaped what Frida saw. How Coyocan/Mexico created the artist.
Los piramides de Teotuhuacan
I don't know how to properly explain all of the things I felt standing here. I could go on to explain that it was warm and the Sun began to prick my skin and there were clouds from the rain in the morning, so there would be a cool breeze that would relieve some of the pain from the climb. I could say that the steps were steep and my legs burned, but I pushed and made it to the top. But that would be too simple. I could say how for months and maybe months all added together meant years in which I have felt broken and how I didn't feel broken here. That this pocha walked in Cortez's that my sister bought me and how that felt appropriate. I don't know how to explain how it felt, but being there made me happy.
The road to Teotihuacan is bumpy, driving through at a slow pace of 15mph to get to this little town where we drove to grab breakfast before our visit to the Pyramids. It was early and the sun was warm and rising, the sun feels different, the light feels different, I wanted to stay here stroll around and take some photos. But I couldn't really, we were rushing to eat so we could get to the pyramids. Our guide Leonel, took us to this little restaurant. The gentleman in the photo, saw me out and about looking, observing, camera in hand. He had me take photos of him, in front of his truck, the restaurant, and of the stand. There was this moment that we got to share, he has his instant photos, and I have these. Little moments, captured, that I hope we both remember.
I exist in the middle
In between Black and White
Between man and woman
I make my way through the callejones
a place I go to with my drag queen brother
to buy cheap jewelry, fishnets and bras.
My Spanish is shitty,
I feel tall, out of place the judgement
AY VAN LOS POCHOS
In the gallery I can see below
the faces that never make their way up
I have to remind myself that I am an artist too.
I can exist here
And when I go downstairs
I can exist there too.
The Start of Nothing...
I knew when I met him that it was going to hurt, but I tried anyway. I didn't want to regret him too, but I regretted so many other things instead.
13th & Mt. Vernon
The place where my art begins to take shape.