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Making It Work | Cara Romero

This summer, the Lawrence Arts Center is thrilled to be partnering with curators Rachel Epp Buller and Maria Velasco to bring Making It Work to Lawrence; a show about being an artist and being a parent and exploring and navigating where they intersect. What does it mean to be an artist? What does it mean to be a parent? How can you incorporate one into the other? Six artists from around the country have answered those questions and have created work that incorporates their family life into their artistic practice.

Each artist has their own unique practice and way of interweaving their family life and artistic practice. Featured here is a Behind the Scenes video and interview with photographer, Cara Romero. The work Cara created features her daughter, Cricket.

I am a mother of three. There have been many times, I have thought, “this will have to wait until the children are older.” There was a pinnacle moment for me in 2011 when I understood that my health and happiness were inseparable from my artistic practice, and to sacrifice my own creative process, actually hurt me. I needed to push back against the demands of motherhood to invest in my art as a radical act of self-care. This push saved my life and allowed me to become the artist I am today.

One of the things that changed for me from the beginning of my career was that I could no longer be a photographer all the time. Instead, I had to schedule a time to be a photographer. As a result, my photography became staged and theatrical. I spend most of my time in my head creating my photographs while I’m doing mundane chores. In the end, the thoughtful layering of my content became a strength and what I am known for today.

When the pandemic hit, my family spent a year in quarantined misery with online school, no parks, and limited social interactions for the developing children. My photography exhibits, working with groups, and travel all came to a standstill. In December of 2020, I had the idea to relocate with my family for 3 months and live on the beach. We would travel in a pod, finish the online school year, but go see the ocean every day. To save the art practice, my daughter and I would work together in “a study”. For weeks and weeks, Crickett and I and my family of lighting assistants took to the shores of Hermosa Beach, creating thousands of photos together. We were as creative as we could possibly be while staying safe and “making it work” with what we had available. In the end, it is an intimate series between mother and daughter that I would otherwise never have made. The spirituality of art-making moves around all obstacles and finds a way to come through us. I am grateful to be an artist.

 

Cara Romero (b. 1977, Inglewood, CA) is a contemporary fine art photographer. An enrolled citizen of the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, Romero was raised between contrasting settings: the rural Chemehuevi reservation in Mojave Desert, CA and the urban sprawl of Houston, TX. Romero’s identity informs her photography, a blend of fine art and editorial photography, shaped by years of study and a visceral approach to representing Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural memory, collective history, and lived experiences from a Native American female perspective.

As an undergraduate at the University of Houston, Romero pursued a degree in cultural anthropology. Disillusioned, however, by academic and media portrayals of Native Americans as bygone, Romero realized that making photographs could do more than anthropology did in words, a realization that led to a shift in medium. Since 1998, Romero’s expansive oeuvre has been informed by formal training in film, digital, fine art, and commercial photography. By staging theatrical compositions infused with dramatic color, Romero takes on the role of storyteller, using contemporary photography techniques to depict the modernity of Native peoples, illuminating Indigenous worldviews and aspects of supernaturalism in everyday life.

Maintaining a studio in Santa Fe, NM, Romero regularly participates in Native American art fairs and panel discussions and was featured in PBS’ Craft in America (2019). Her award-winning work is included in many public and private collections internationally. Married with three children, she travels between Santa Fe and the Chemehuevi Valley Indian Reservation, where she maintains close ties to her tribal community and ancestral homelands.

See Cara’s work being featured and talked about across the nation!

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