For the past three years, I have been traveling to the US-Mexico border, volunteering with humanitarian aid groups, and gaining an in depth understanding of the border and the people migrating between Mexico and the United States. As an active volunteer, I have been bearing witness to different aspects of migration, including housing and sheltering of migrants en route, search and rescue for missing persons in the desert, food and health care at the various facilities, and families who have been deported back to Mexico. I have been photographing the borderlands and its environs, the people migrating and seeking asylum in the United States, the volunteers and groups actively helping migrants along the border, border patrol, and migrant shelters.
I go to the border with my large format 8x10 camera, a camera which takes time to set up, and is identifiable as an historic object. The use of this camera is relevant: the slow time it takes to set up and make a photograph allows for conversation and collaboration with the person, or people, sitting in front of my camera. I hear stories, I make personal connections with the people I am photographing as both volunteer and photographer. I am also creating 16mm films: portraits, landscapes, a moving picture of all I am bearing witness to.
By being an active participant in supporting the lives, and at times the recovery, of the humans caught in the midst of this issue, I ask, how do I convey a sense of empathy through the photographs I am making? How do I pass this empathy along, and is it possible to do so?
As a first generation American, my families were refugees to this country. My family were granted political asylum to the United States in 1967. By participating in the lives of those who also seek safety in the United States, my own family expands.
Promised Land is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Promised Land must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. To donate and for more information, visit: