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Ruben Guzman, Virginia Benavidez, Catalina Govea, and Antonio Tovar collaborating with Galería de la Raza

Award: Visual Arts Grant, December 1994

Exhibited:  January 16-March 2, 1996

Photographers Ruben Guzman, Virginia Benavidez, Catalina Govea, and Antonio Tovar collaborated with Galería de la Raza to document the daily lives of recent immigrants–showing them at work, home, school, and with their families. Sueños Prometidos/Promised Dreams, created in the wake of the passage of Proposition 187 in California, addressed the need to understand immigrants and how anti-immigrant hostility affects the community at large. The exhibit attracted nearly 2,000 visitors and extensive press coverage.

The artists sought to revise the traditional relationship between a documentary photographer and his or her subject by interacting with the people being photographed. While they collaborated on the theme and by interacting with their subjects, each photographer’s approach was different.  Ruben Guzman photographed several individuals and asked them to write their own stories directly onto the photographs.  Virginia Benavidez followed a few individuals, documenting their daily lives in depth while Catalina Govar documented community ceremonies—such as birthdays, baptisms, and quinceñeras. Antonio Tovar sought to show through straightforward portraits the array of cultural backgrounds of recent immigrants living in the Mission District.

Born in Texas in 1988, photographer Ruben Guzman migrated to the Bay Area in 1988, where he became involved in Chicano and Latino art and community organizations.

Galería de la Raza is a nonprofit community based arts organization, founded in 1970, that promotes public awareness and appreciation of Chicano/Latino art, artists, and the indigenous cultures from which they arise through visual art exhibitions, multi-media presentations, and educational activities.

The image shown with this profile is by Catalina Govea.