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Photography, like painting and printmaking, has always attracted my attention. But like most art forms my relationship to the form had always been as a spectator. Watching movies like Oliver Stone’s “El Salvador” which tells the story of the Salvadorian brutal civil war through the eyes of a photojournalist made me conscious of the important role photo documentation could play in the world. There were also photographers like Tina Modotti (a friend and contemporary of Frida Kahlo) whose photo “Bandolier, Corn, Sickle” cleverly mixed the utilitarian tools of Mexican campesinos with communist party emblems appeared before my eyes as the cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “People of the Sun” album. Modotti’s photos made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
This January, after many years of fantasizing about what it might be like to get behind the lens, I jumped into it and bought myself a Canon Rebel T2i(that’s for the camera nerds who always ask and want to know what you are shooting with). I am still learning all the basics: what aperture is, the differences between lenses, lighting and so on. Though I am still a novice it’s been a wonderful, thrilling and addicting experience. There is a little voice in my head repeating “Get the shot, get the shot” and I find myself climbing onto parked trucks during migrant justice marches or laying stomach to the ground to get just the right perspective of the children in San Francisco at the rally in solidarity with North African countries struggling to autonomy and true democracy. It’s intoxicating.
In the few months that I have been shooting I have had my first photos published. I documented as much as I could of a rally of folks opposed to racial profiling and the markers of oncoming gentrification that come with gang injunctions. The ACLU of Northern California published two of my photos in their annual report.
The rallies, actions and events of grassroots organizations and community efforts are what call me most. In fact I used the photos from the same rally in Oakland to create a campaign poster for the Stop the Injunctions Coalition. This has allowed me to marry the thrill of photography with my ongoing experiments with design and illustration. This intersection is what I would like to develop with more intention and purpose as I continue to go after the shot.
See more photos here:http://www.flickr.com/photos/dignidadrebelde/
Download the poster by clicking HERE
Today marks the 50th day that a spiritual encampment (an on going prayer and presence on the land) that has held strong in at Glen Cove, in Vallejo California. The occupation of the ancient burial site at Glen Cove by Native Americans and supporters who remain at the site in order to guard it against desecration by bulldozers.
I created this graphic as a humble attempt to create a visual that captured the stories being told by organizers and elders. I wanted to depict ancestors presence on this sacred shellmound and did so by depicting Miwok and Ohlone men and women reflected in the clouds and in on the land. Many other California peoples have been present on this sacred land I want to acknowledge that as well. Ideally this could be a much larger piece that could reflect how important this site is to many, many, many peoples.
Glen Cove is a sacred gathering place and burial ground that has been utilized by numerous Native American tribes since at least 1,500 BC. Today, Glen Cove continues to be spiritually important to local Native communities. It is located just south of Vallejo, California along the Carquinez Strait, a natural channel that connects the Sacramento River Delta to the San Francisco Bay. Glen Cove is known as Sogorea Te in Karkin Ohlone language.
Since 1988, the Greater Vallejo Recreation District (GVRD) and the City of Vallejo have been pursuing the development of the Glen Cove site into a “fully featured” public park. GVRD’s current Master Plan calls for the installation of a parking lot, restroom facility, picnic tables, and construction of additional trails, including a paved trail. It also calls for re-grading of large areas of the site, which involves digging that will further disturb burials and sacred objects. This planned grading includes “capping” known shellmound/burial areas with 12 inches of soil.
The local Native American community has been outspoken for over ten years about the Glen Cove Sacred Site, and the message has been overwhelmingly: do not further disturb and manipulate this sacred burial ground of our ancestors. It is not a park. Spiritual leaders from Ohlone, Miwok, Pomo and other local tribes consider the proposed park development plans to be an offensive desecration of this holy area that has already seen many years of abuse in the hands of settlers. Furthermore, we consider the manipulation of our ancestors’ burial site without our informed consent to be a violation of our human and religious rights.
The Master Plan also calls for an aggressive extermination of non-native plant species. Procedures detailed in the Plan describe cutting down trees and applying herbicide to their exposed trunks and remaining root systems. The Plan also calls for years of ongoing herbicide application. Elders in the local Native community say that All Life is Sacred. We oppose extermination of the trees and plants that have taken root on this Sacred Burial Ground, regardless of whether they are endemic species or relative newcomers.
(courtesy of http://protectglencove.org)
Organizers are asking the following:
"Please come out to visit the spiritual encampment at Glen Cove, for a few hours or a few days. A constant presence on the land keeps us strong, and protects the site. Remember, no drugs, no alcohol, no weapons. Driving directions are here."
There are also statements of support that can be signed and a need to spread awaredness of the struggle "Help spread the word. Talk to friends about Glen Cove, and the ongoing desecration of Native American burial grounds and sacred sites. Link to this website, repost our articles and photos."
Post up the downloadable poster and keep talking and acting to protect sacred sites.
Finally, you can directly help resource this emergency mobilization by donating here
"They are asking supporters to be on heightened alert over the next two weeks and prepared to respond to a call for emergency on-land support."
Watch a fantastic short informational film about the encampment at Glen Cove by Rebecca Ruiz Lichter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mZnssi406c