Claudia Lopez: Dualities
Born in America and raised in Juárez, Mexico, photographer Claudia Lopez charts the narratives that trace back and forth over the border that separates Lopez and her family from the city that will always be her first home. Like many others, Lopez and her family migrated to America in a flight away from crime and poverty to start a new life. At the age of twenty, she started anew in the country she was born in, but didn’t know.
Within Phoenix, Arizona Lopez finds Mexico among other immigrants in her community, in conversations spoken in Spanish and the tastes and smells of her native cuisine. Her photographs capture Mexico within those around her, and intersect her old home with her new one, separated only by border bisecting one land and dividing people, both from one another, and creating division within the individuals themselves.
By charting the migration patterns of her family, Lopez questions the meaning of borders and migration itself, the restriction of movement that creates pockets of people who share a common culture, geographical origin and a longing for home. These communities are rich with a culture uprooted and finding new ground in a new country, struggling to adapt to the soil of a state that made a celebrity of one of the most racist sheriffs in American history–a soil shared between countries, yet transformed by the border built atop it.
Through a combination of street photography and self portraiture, Lopez grapples with the implications that come with being born an American, but still being seen as other. While not at the forefront of this body of work, Lopez’s experience as an LGBT person within a heteronormative culture intersects with her experience as a Mexican within America. Both aspects of her identity inform one another as she navigates Phoenix, seeking home within her communities regardless of where she finds them.
I was born on the US side of the border, but destiny decided that I would grow up in Juárez, Mexico. American on paper, but Mexican at heart. I migrated from Juárez to Phoenix at age twenty as the cartel crime rate was rising, young women were disappearing, and my family was falling into a deep financial struggle. Like many others I left my home, my family and everything I knew behind to start a new life here. While Phoenix has become my new home, my soul still longs for Mexico. Friendly chattering in Spanish, the sound of a good cumbia and the comforting aromas of an elote stand are amongst the things that make me feel at home the most. I photograph the people around me, those who remind me of who I am and where I came from, those who are also longing for home. My work questions the meaning of borders and migration while dissecting my own family’s migration pattern. My images speak of the richness, nuances, and struggles of the immigrant community in Phoenix as well as my experience growing up on the Juárez-El Paso border.
Claudia López is a multidisciplinary artist. She grew up in Juárez, Mexico, and now resides in Phoenix, Arizona where she recently earned a BFA in Photography from Arizona State University. She has been showcased in various group shows and juried exhibitions. López has served as a Photography Youth Mentor for Puente, a grassroots migrant justice organization. López has been an active member of the Phoenix art community, working in exhibition design and coordination for various local galleries and museums. She is currently part of the exhibitions team at Phoenix Art Museum.
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