Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexandra Uzarraga.
Alexandra, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I’ve always been a person who is adventurous and who can’t stay at one place for too long, and I believe that that feeling and restlessness comes from my transborder life. I was born in San Diego and raised by my Mexican family in Tijuana, Mexico. Since I can remember, I’ve been almost every day in two different countries, not really knowing how this was creating my identity and culture.
When I finished high school in Tijuana, I felt lost and didn’t know what to do with my personal and work life, so I decided to work and skip school until I knew what I wanted. I worked in a lot of places where I had a routine and didn’t enjoy what I was doing, so I realized that I needed to do something that had to be the opposite way of what I was feeling, and that’s when I started thinking about going back to school. I’ve always been a visual learner and been into art, and when I realized that, I started to think about photography, something that I’ve always appreciated and enjoyed, and could make money with it. It was hard to find a school in Tijuana or San Diego in 2008 that focused only in photography and that I could major on that, so I moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico to study photography at Escuela Activa de Fotografía.
I lived in Cuernavaca the first year and a half of school until criminal organization affected my life. Because of that, I was scared and didn’t want to live there anymore so I moved. Luckily my school is located in other cities of Mexico and I chose the city of Querétaro to finish it. I finished school and moved back to Tijuana and started working in San Diego as a sales representative so I could buy my own equipment. I worked as a sales representative and in customer service for more than 4 years, it started to be a comfort zone but I wasn’t enjoying and didn’t feel passionate or happy about what I was doing. Meanwhile, I was trying to travel as much as I could in Mexico to get to know better my Mexican culture and country. At that point, I knew that I wanted my photographs to take me to different places and cultures, so that’s when I decided to quit my job and move to Alaska to grow my portfolio. I worked as a nanny in Anchorage during summer and begging of fall. During my free time, I visited places that I never imagined I would be. I started to feel a different connection with my camera, I started to pay attention to the feeling of being present, not thinking about my past or future when I was photographing these amazing landscapes, and I understood the meaning of passion. I knew that when I had to go home, I needed to focus only in photography and find ways to travel and live from it.
After a series of unfortunate events, I moved back to Tijuana. I wasn’t sure how I was going to start the way I wanted to live, only that I needed to stick with photography somehow, so I started to exchange my work in restaurants, bars and with different local artists. During this small period, I was introduced to The AjA Project.
I really enjoy traveling and to photograph landscapes, but I never felt that my work was changing anything. It might bring you peace, it might make you feel present, it might take you to that place for a few seconds, but how is this helping others? How is my work making a change in my community? All of these questions started when I joined this non-profit based in City Heights that creates photography projects with marginalized youth in different communities in San Diego. In the AjA Project as a teaching artist, I realized that I can use my photo knowledge to help others, give them a tool to share their story and raise their voice. I also met amazing people and artists, it also connected me with the transborder community and eventually all these connections had taken me to different countries to take photos.
I never thought photography was going to take me where I am now, my goals and aspirations are different from when I started this career and I couldn’t be more happy, grateful and fulfilled.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I want to show the beauty of this planet outside the walls we live in. Connect the viewers with nature somehow and bring awareness on how we can take care of it. I want to motivate people to travel, to meet different cultures and people, to explore the world or different communities. To find their passion and live from it. I want to humanize the society I live in. I want to bring peace only if it’s for 1 second by looking at my images.
My artwork has inspired me to keep moving, fighting and living in this world, it has saved me and motivated me in dark times. I hope I can bring through my images a moment of peace and silence, a moment to reflect.
The sterotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?
If possible, I would recommend to go to art shows, to get involved with the community, volunteer in an organization that meets your interests.
- Website: www.aleuzarraga.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: aleuzarraga
- Facebook: aleuzarragafoto
- Other: www.janatijuana.tumblr.com
Fera Maldonado – Profile Picture