“Pass the gull-durn crumpets, pendejo,” I might utter if I were to speak with the multiple cultural influences in my life. My father’s Grapes of Wrath-paralleling parents led him to be raised by Okies in Southern California, and my mother was born on U.S. soil to British parents and siblings. I took my first breath in Madrid, Spain, and ended up in Albuquerque at the age of two. I grew up in the South Valley, catching horned toads, walking my dog along the acequias, and being ever-vigilant at dusk, lest I fall prey to La Llorona.
High school found my inner artist and daydreamer at war with the burgeoning cynic that began taking form as adolescent life for a kid who didn’t quite fit in anywhere promised little in the way of gratification, be it short-term or long. Rebellion manifested itself visually in the abrasive stylings of Punk—complete with matching attitude. Creativity helped keep me alive. I wrote: journals, poems, plays, songs. I interpreted the world through the lens on my camera, reflecting, distorting, revealing life in 35mm fractions of existence. Graphic art, assemblage, and other mediums saw experimentation by my hands as well.
I often ditched school to consume coffee and/or controlled substances, make art, talk to elders, sex workers, and homeless people—anyone who might have an interesting story—or to read up on subjects in public- or university libraries that I found more interesting than the busywork drivel spoon-fed to me in public school. Then, at the beginning of my senior year, I dropped out. I saw completing high school as a conveyor belt to hegemony and banality, and dropped out for fear of becoming a consumer clone. Over a decade of menial, thankless, low-wage employment followed, complimented by a miserable marriage.
In 2006, after nearly a decade-long hiatus from photography, I bought a digital camera with my tax return. In 2007 I began writing again. I wrote travel articles about New Mexico that incorporated history, observations, and local dining into my narratives, accompanied by photos I took during my travels. I published these articles on a website I created, and even gathered a small following, thanks in part to being featured on the evening news. In 2008 I acquired a better camera, and a liberating divorce.
In 2010 I remarried, this time to someone I had been friends with for several years. She challenged and stimulated me intellectually, and creatively. As she began grad school just months after we wed, she encouraged me to entertain the idea of college, as many of my pastimes and hobbies were activities that one is required to do as an undergrad, and elects to do in grad school. I pondered that for a couple of weeks, then, 17 years after dropping out of high school, I found myself a college student.
I graduated with a B.A. in American Studies from the University of New Mexico in 2015, with a focus on New Mexico’s historical, physical, and cultural landscapes. Right out of school I was a paid intern writing feature stories for New Mexico’s largest newspaper, and had the distinction of being the first intern in the hundred-plus years of the newspaper to be granted a front-page column. I was promoted to a temp, and continued to write and shoot features, and eventually turned down a permanent position.
Following that foray into journalism, I was a content-creator for a small advertising company for a few months where I learned a surprising amount in a short time, including copywriting for search engine optimization, or SEO. My community-service ethos pushed me onward to the marketing department for a large nonprofit serving the elderly, people with disabilities, and people experiencing food insecurity.
After a few years there, I began to itch for something a little more academic, and became the Staff Writer at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, where I was able to utilize my writing and editing experience along with my knowledge of history, archaeology, and culture to support the mission to preserve and perpetuate Pueblo culture. As the department shrank, I took on more responsibilities, including principal photography, media relations, and social media. The additional duties shifted my title to Communications Specialist, a role I occupied until very recently.
I am community-minded, and volunteer for a number of organizations and causes. I am a board member for a small nonprofit that provides survival necessities to people experiencing homelessness, conduct photography and creative writing workshops for high schools and universities, and undertake a variety of efforts to support LGBTQ, Native American, and POC communities.
I have worked on oral history projects for the Bureau of Land Management and UNM’s Chicana and Chicano Studies Department, written and photographed for the Albuquerque Journal, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, and numerous other clients. My photos can be found in magazines, newspapers, calendars, t-shirts, and brochures, plus I have independently documented numerous people and places of historical and anthropological interest through both writing and photography.
I write. I shoot. I love food. People intrigue me. ¿Y que?