Luz: Seeing the Space Between Us

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$10,650 raised of $5,000 goal
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Funded on May 21, 2022
    • 213% contributed

I am creating a limited-edition artist book that centers on my return to photography and reflects the resilience and complexity of my home community of Pilsen. Through portraits of people and place, this will be an archive of Pilsen’s ever-changing social and political landscape and a love letter to a practice that has carried me from the streets and living rooms of Chicago to diverse communities across Latin America and back again.

About This Project

It all began with my morning walks. It was early—6:30 or 7:00am, the first spring of COVID. People weren’t out, just an eerie silence of Pilsen’s warehouses and factories standing still without the motion of a pre-pandemic rush around them. I started to photograph with my iPhone this version of my neighborhood I had never seen before, eventually trading out devices for a new SLR camera I was gifted by a friend. In reconnecting with photography, I was able to just explore, reacquaint myself with buildings and a community that has for so long been in the throes of rapid gentrification.

As I continued these photo walks across the seasons of the pandemic, people began to grow accustomed to the ebbs and flows of life in lockdown. I transitioned from photographing landscapes to taking portraits of neighbors and friends. I was putting myself out there, meeting my subjects as they were comfortable and as they felt safe to be photographed. These portraits became moments of emergence for those of us in Pilsen already vulnerable to the whims of predatory developers and racist housing policies, during a time when our country’s inequitable response to COVID and its permutations sought to further silence us. By coming together with friends and community members in this way, I called on the sensibilities I’ve developed as a teaching artist working with youth and adults in classroom and community settings since 1979. I was able to collaborate once again with community partners and the young people of Benito Juarez Community Academy on a similar project titled, Community Resilience: Stories in Conversation. Some of my photos from this time will appear in the book.

The portraits in Luz: Seeing the Space Between Us hold precious the persons within the contained space of the camera’s frame. They are intimate in nature, the subjects’ postures and direct gazes suggest a knowing presence in that moment between photographer and subject. This project has reinvigorated an understanding of my place within the practice of photography after a 20-year detour to pursue work in illustration and painting. It has drawn on my decades of experience as a documentary photographer from the 1970’s through the early 90’s, which centered the Latino community of Pilsen, artists and cultural workers, feminist and women’s voices, and the Lesbian and LGBTQ+ communities of Chicago and Mexico City. Then and now, I am interested in portraying regular people; their personas and the stories that they tell; their gaze as it captures me; my eye seeing them as they are—whole, complex, and unshielded in the moment. This project has reminded me that my practice as a photographer has always been about being in communion with others—seeing and being seen, not only as we are but as we wish to be.

I will be working with a marvelous team of collaborators that will help in the design and production of a one-of-a-kind photography book. These collaborators include Chema Skandal! who will provide design work and production consultation; printmakers and book publishers Eric Von Haynes of Flatlands Press and Matthew Zito of Nero Ink Press who will provide the printing and binding of the book; and writer Robin Reid Drake as copy editor and writing consultant. With an introduction by the artist and a foreword essay by Deanna Ledezma, Ph. D, and Spanish translation by Moira Pujols, this book will present my most recent photo project within the context of my lifetime’s worth of photo work. Your contributions will allow me to fairly pay my generous collaborators as well as cover printing, design, and marketing costs. With a projected release date of Summer 2022, this book project will greet the public with a launch party hosted in the Pilsen neighborhood.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $20
    Thank you on social media, plus a signed personal note from Diana ($20.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Above + your name acknowledged in the book ($50.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    Above + a set of postcards featuring images from the book ($80.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $150
    Autographed copy of the “Luz” photo book + your name acknowledged in the thank you pages ($110.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    Above + exclusive invitation to an online artist talk with Diana and collaborators about the creation of the book ($210.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Above + a 50-minute portrait session with Diana ($360.00 is tax deductible.)

Diana Solís

Make a Wave Artist

Diana Solís is a Mexican-born visual artist, photographer, and educator whose work includes photography, painting, illustration, printmaking, comics, public murals, and installation. She is inspired by Mexican and Chicano culture, memory, cautionary tales, oral and personal histories, queer identities, and narratives. …

View Diana Solís's profile
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