Juan Giraldo: East 17th Street
My work is about them as much as it is for them. I honor them and their lives. – Juan Giraldo
Throughout our childhood, we see our parents as figures meant for comfort and shelter, for guidance and, well, annoyance, but we don’t see them as human beings with pasts and baggage and profound stories to tell until we are adults ourselves. Artist Juan Giraldo and his family are first generation immigrants and layered on to his consideration of family is the experience of life unteathered from origins and culture. Juan uses the lens of a participant observer to re-examine those under his own roof with a fresh perspective, one with appreciation for their journey and a recognition of his own.
Juan Giraldo is a photographer currently living in Brooklyn, New York; he received his MFA in May of 2015 from Columbia College’s photography department. He was born in Manizales, Colombia and raised in Paterson, New Jersey. He received his BFA with a concentration in photography in May of 2009 from William Paterson University. Awards include The Hopper Prize, The Center for Photography at Woodstock A-I-R Program, Dwight D. Follett Fellowship Full Tuition Award from Columbia College Chicago, Honorable Mention in, En Foco’s, People Places and Things. Exhibitions include 2019 The Universal, Filter Photo, Chicago, IL, Curated by Gregory Harris, Latinx Expreciones II, Morris Arts, Morristown, NJ, Curated by Dr. Ginny Butera & Prof. Will Suarez, New Poetics at Aviary Gallery, Curated by June T. Sanders & Alec Smith, Jamaica Plain, MA, Center Forward 2018, Curated by Kris Graves, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO, Can’t Take You Anywhere, Resident Arts National Juried Exhibition, Curated by Anna Wehrwein & Fidencio Fifield-Perez, Columbia, MO, Palm Photo Prize at London’s House of Vans, London, UK Flesh/Water, Curated by Kelly Ciurej, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, HATCH, Curated by Zora J Murff MEDICI Gallery, Richards Hall University of Nebraska, Lincoln NE, Context: Art & Documentary, Curated by Noah Addis, Perspective Gallery, Evanston, IL, Photoville, Brooklyn, NY, Photolucida: Critical Mass Top 50, Curated by David Rosenberg, Artwork Network Gallery, Denver, CO Eyes on Main Street, Curated by Régina Monfort & Jerome Deperlinghi, Wilson, NC, Aqui, Perspective Gallery, Evanston, IL, Art Now 2016: New Directions in Contemporary Photography, Ann Arbor Art Center, Ann Arbor, MI The Fine Art of Photography, Plymouth Center for the Arts, Plymouth, MA Perceived Realities 2015 MFA Thesis Exhibition, Columbia College Chicago President’s Residence (solo show). His work explores the personal interior spaces of working people, (in particular the employees of Great Lakes Reload and his family in Paterson, New Jersey) the textures of a working life and the banal indicators of domesticity that shaped his view of the world, both as a first-generation immigrant and laborer. In addition to this work he continues to photograph his family as part of an ongoing project in which he looks at his relationship with his parents.
East 17th Street
I look at my parents through the lens as of an adult who is now older than they were when they first arrived in the United States. Growing up in Paterson’s (NJ) Riverside section; in the shadow of New York City and Paterson’s declining industry and long forgotten silk mills. My family and I are first generation immigrants. My parents never openly chased the American dream, but they instilled in their children the value of hard work and were grateful for the opportunities as they became available. My father, Ramiro Giraldo has now lived in United States longer than he did in our native Manizales, Colombia. In 2013, I began photographing my parents and the neighborhood I was raised in. After more than thirty years, I wanted to know what kept my parents in Paterson. Was it lack of opportunity or pride of place? Or perhaps, the way familiarity offers both embrace and a chokehold. What keeps us in any one place for any period of time? The physical space, the things we hold dear, community? And within these communities, the blocks we grew up on, how that shapes and binds us. Through my parents and their environment I look at the things that created our immigrant experience. Through photographs I want to give them what they couldn’t achieve like so many other immigrant generations before them. Yet they endure. My work is about them as much as it is for them. I honor them and their lives. – Juan Giraldo