Community: People of Chiapas

CommunityShowcard MAJOR EXHIBIT at Image City :

The second show of the year at Image City is “Community,” a collaboration among Don Menges, Gil Maker, Steve Malloy Desormeaux and myself. Using the theme of “Community,” each of us has created a portfolio of images that reflects our photographic expression of that theme. Don’s photographs reflect community as it unfolds in an urban environment, Steve’s are portraits of 4-H participants in county fairs, complete with their animal friends. Gil  is exhibiting photographs from immigrant communities in Maine. My contribution is from Chiapas, Mexico.

About the exhibit…
The rural highlands of Chiapas is home to many of the indigenous communities that make up more than a quarter of the state’s population. They have maintained an ongoing struggle to preserve the material and spiritual value of their land, their cultural heritage and an effective level of autonomy. The struggle culminated in an armed revolt in Chiapas by the EZLN, also known as the Zapatistas, which led to constitutional reforms in 2001 clearly identifying the rights of the indigenous people. I lived in Chiapas (1998-2002) in the aftermath of the Zapatista uprising and had many occasions to visit both indigenous and other rural communities. I’ve never seen nor experienced “community” as powerfully as with these people of Chiapas.

During those years in Mexico, I carried my camera everywhere – at first a film camera and later a 3 megapixel digital camera. During visits to smaller communities, it was always important to respectfully ask for permission to photograph from the community leaders. In a marketplace, however, permission could be obtained directly. All of these photographs were captured using color negative film, digitally scanned, and then processed and printed using Photoshop and a 3880 Epson printer. Many of them were taken in San Cristobal de las Casas, the cultural capital of Chiapas and location of a lively market for the handmade products of these artisans. Other photographs come from small remote communities in the highlands of central Chiapas.