Exploring Ethnicity, Identity, Land Use and the Environment
Santa Fe Arts Journal, 06/21/2017
Emily Van Cleve
More than 60 photos and objects created by six female artists from New Mexico that explore themes of ethnicity, identity, land use and the environment are on display in David Richard Gallery’s new show “History/Her Story.”
Most of the pieces in this exhibit, which opens on June 23, are photographs. For the past four years photographer Delilah Montoya, who explores issues relating to Chicano culture and ideas in her work, has been creating a body of photographs that portrays families with genetic ties to colonial ethnic groups (Indigenous, European or Sub-Sahara).
“This project, as a series of 16 family portraits, uses the same aesthetics formulated by the Mexican Casta Painting tradition, where both the mother and the father are represented with their children,” Montoya explains. “Rather than use a literal definition for the ethnic identity such as mulatto or mestizo, the ethnic identity is represented by the family’s own history or with a DNA Genographic Study of the mother and father’s global ancestral migration.”
Abbey Hepner’s “Transuranic” series, which provides a close-up look at the radioactive waste at sites in the Western U.S., is on display. Her accompanying snow globes contain modern-day nuclear landscapes in miniature.
Kali Spitzer challenges pre-conceived notions of race, gender and identity through “An Exploration of Resilience,” a series of photos of Spitzer’s community of mostly indigenous and mixed heritage people communicated through the format of tintype, a photograph taken as a positive on a thin tin plate.
Works by Jessamyn Lovell, who uses photography, video, and surveillance as tools to document her own life experiences making connections between class and personal identity; Cara Romero, whose photographs offer a complex interplay of social commentary, adaptation and examination of modern culture with a distinctly modern indigenous world view; and Laurie Tümer, whose prints focus on the ubiquitous presence of pesticides and other environmental contaminants that we can’t normally see, also are part of the show.