It’s About Coming Together
The lights are dimmed in the windowless room, but there’s warmth from the smiles and the single pillar candle burning. It’s subdued and reverent, but filled with color. Between sips of margaritas, the artistic conversation turns to their work and collaborations. Right now, Nava has an exhibit that displays the altars of the holiday at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, all made out of papier-mâché. He shaped paper into chicken and grapes as ofrendas (offerings), a ritual that dates back to the Aztecs 3,000 years ago. It's a way of celebrating the celebration itself, and how the day binds people in conviviality.
"We are laughing, we are eating, we are thinking, we are creating...it brings people together," he says. "Dia de Muertos is a holiday that is becoming more and more popular. I want to offer more color to this tradition, enjoying life now, and enjoy it also for those who are no longer with us."
But where Nava sets a feast for the eyes, Franco finds that gearing down is her entry point to the community she seeks to illustrate.
"The less equipment I have on me makes me more approachable, less invasive," she says, "because I do like to be close to my subjects, looking for those truly human moments that help define who we are and the times we live in." For her, the camera is not only a reason to travel, but a way of engaging with the community when she gets there.
"It's exciting because I don't know where photography's going to take me next," she says.