The Ramirez Family
A chance encounter, at a creek in Oaxaca, Mexico, evolved into a fourteen-year photographic study of one family’s slow steady evolution and ultimately has become a heart-felt example of their determination and success.
Images of the poor are not rare and there is nothing particularly remarkable about the Ramirez family except that ordinary life is stunning in itself and my pursuit is always to create intimate, emotional, provocative images in the mundane.
In 1996 I approached a woman and her children who were bathing and playing in a small creek cluttered by garbage and debris in hopes of taking their photograph. Not only was she receptive, but she also invited me back to her home in Reforma El Mirador where I was introduced to her husband, her mother in law, and her 15 children. Reforma El Mirador is a small shantytown on the outskirts of Oaxaca, Mexico comprised of families who moved closer to the city center to improve their economic situation. Despite the squalor, it is a devoutly religious community, filled with a quiet hope, their greatest wealth exhibited in their strong family values.
Walking with Christina and the children along the bank cluttered by garbage, I was amazed that an unsanitary stream was their only place to bathe. Yet, when viewing my photographs I realized by experiencing this bathing ritual with them I had transformed the filthy stream into a luxurious paradise of cleansing and play.
Initially I was intrigued by the way the Ramirez family lived; their economic status, religion, and language so different from my own; their culture so much more open and inviting, but over time, as we have all grown and evolved, the reason for photographing them changed. My need to document the human relationship remained, but their determination to build a better life and their steady success amazed me. I felt privileged to witness their transformation.…