Sources and Methodology
[Instagram] After completing my digital review, in which I evaluated how digital institutionalized archives such as Calisphere implicitly guide viewers’ perceptions of Chicana women, I wanted to curate a digital exhibit that exclusively privileges grassroots perspectives. I chose photography as the sole medium of my project, since this is a project that looks at how narratives of California mobility are embedded in visual imagery. Moreover, each individual exhibit relates a different aesthetic, revealing myriad grassroots visions of Chicana/o Los Angeles.
Exhibit Object 1 – Chicana Self-Fashioning and Bella Doña L.A.
Bella Doña L.A., an L.A.-based, all-female owned clothing brand that describes itself on Tumblr with hashtags such as #westcoast, #homegirls, and #chola, uses Instagram to advertise its merchandise. As I’ve discussed in my digital exhibit, these photographs are taken in different urban locales such as Echo Park, downtown Los Angeles, and the Chicano barrio.
Andrew L. Quesada, whose photography primarily focuses on women’s bodies in different visual contexts, photographs Bella Doña L.A.’s models. On his website, Quesada writes, I love the fact that with a simple photograph, i can boost a woman confidence, reminding her that she is powerful and she is needed.
Exhibit Object 2 - @elfotografojoquin Captures Latinas in Urban Landscape
These photographs, also showing Latina women in different L.A. urban landscapes, are best described as lenses through which we can experience the city according to the visions of Latino photographer Joaquin Guzman. These particular photographs show women posing against landscapes that evoke a working class urbanism, such as bridges, barbed wire fences, and industrial wastelands. Joaquin’s other photography aims to capture either the griminess or working-class nature of the city, from graffiti, to shopping carts, to (consensual) portraits of homeless individuals. Other photographs depict scenes of barrio life, such as hot dog vendors cooking on the streets, grandmothers making tamales, and working people riding the bus.
Exhibit Object 3 - @blacklotusrosie and Xicana Self-Representation on Instagram
When I encountered “La Chicana” Rosie’s Tumblr, I knew I had encountered something beautifully radical and special. On both her Tumblr and Instagram, Rosie shows how young Chicana women can use social media as an avenue for self-expression and self-representation. Unlike the other photographs in this exhibit, these photographs are captured by a Chicana herself. There are a few sites within Los Angeles that she has chosen to feature on her Instagram page, and I think that these places are indicators of a Chicana’s mobility throughout L.A. Social media allows Chicanas to interpret their own photography, instead of depending on archival institutions that might not do justice to their feminist projects.
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