A Fotoseptiembre event, Califas Lens, San Anto Heart: Outside Looking In presents an ongoing photographic documentation project by photographer, Arlene Mejorado. This visual series centers working class communities of color in San Antonio, Texas. The exhibition captures people that exist outside of pop culture and defy the discriminating visual consumption. Califas Lens, San Anto Heart: Outside Looking In articulates the connection Mejorado has to California; which informs her observations in San Antonio. With this exhibit, she works to bring visibility to the daily resiliency, thriving communities, and vibrant beauty that Mejorado believes is the true beating heart of San Antonio. As a self-trained photographer with an urban style developed in the streets of Los Angeles, Guest Curator r.l. rodriguez and Lady Base Gallery are proud to present Califas Lens, San Anto Heart: Outside Looking In, an ongoing ethnographic project.
Pulga Portraits reflects the visitors of the Poteet Flea Mart, located in the southwest side of San Antonio. This series documents the people that partake in the outdoor market culture, visually rich scenes intertwined with labor and social engagement. The outdoor market, in any society, is an energetic vortex of bursting life; serving as the beating heart of both social order and chaos. Pulga Portraits works to bring together the fragments of pulga moments, people, and the significance of these spaces in our lives.
Images taken by Fotosemptiembre USA. Visit Fotoseptiembre USA Website
According to Mejorado, “As a transplant in San Antonio I feel culturally tied to the pulga and its people. I feel connected to the children that sit on the sidelines waiting for their parents to finish making their last deal. The pulga is a representation of home and sparks a connection to my mother. My mother’s weekend trips to swap meets were always an opportunity for me to have her by my side while consuming energetic social spaces with my observant eye as a child. Growing up I associate the flea market with quality time spent with my mother. Before I ever held a camera, my eyes were the camera; talking visual memories. My mother had a puesto (flea market booth) that was small and very busy during the holidays. I never wanted to leave. I always wanted to hang out with her and watch her interact with the senoras from the neighboring puestos. When I walk through outdoor markets in San Antonio, Mexico City, Nicaragua, El Salvador, or anywhere else in the world; I feel at home. The pulga is a rhythm of life that I understand. I am in my element and I feel accepted. I feel safe with the old men that drink beer and people watch. I feel encouraged by the moms that are there to relax and let their children play.”
Born and raised in northern Los Angeles, Arlene Mejorado is a photographer, filmmaker and multi-media artist currently working out of San Antonio, Texas. Growing up as a millennial with a transnational, diasporical, and multi-ethnic experience, she came to understand her existence through the local punk scene, Latin American regional music, and hip hop social & cultural spaces. At the age of 21, she discovered her love of photography while travelling. She received a degree in Latin American Studies / Communications from the University of Texas at Austin and is currently pursuing new academic and creative endeavors. Her research interests are diasporic communities in the U.S., racial experiences in society, gender, migration, and hybrid cultural & musical formations.
In 2013, Arlene co-founded Mujeres en Medio, a women-of-color-centered media platform for stories and visual expression. She is the editor and curator of Óptica, a women-based photography zine. She has worked on special digital media archival projects at the Human Rights Documentation Initiative, El Salvador’s Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen, Self Help Graphics & Art, and San Anto Cultural Arts. Her documentary film was featured in Germany’s 2015 Filminitiativ festival within the African Diaspora category. Currently, Arlene is preparing for her first solo exhibit in collaboration with Lady Base Gallery at R Space in San Antonio. Website