Susana Raab: Cholita

In support of this year’s New Works Photography Fellowship Award Exhibition and to share the work of this year’s photographers with the online community, En Foco partners with juror and FlakPhoto.com creator Andy Adams to highlight their work in a series of  blog posts. For more information, preview the exhibition catalog. Part 5 of 5.

Family, Huanchaco, Peru, Cholita series, 2011 © Susana Raab 

An editorial photographer by trade, Susana Raab has been telling visual stories for years. It’s no surprise then that social perception and cultural identity heavily influence her current project. Peruvian by birth and father, Raab left the country at the age of three following her parent’s divorce. When she first returned to visit a decade ago, she was surprised to find herself nicknamed Cholita Gringa by local friends. Cholo, a racial slur assigned to Peruvians of mixed American Indian ancestry, is a complicated word with connotations that range from disgust to affection. Similarly, the photographer’s childhood was complicated by an upbringing that straddled two cultures. Raab has spent the past two years photographing modern coastal Peruvians in order to connect with her cultural roots. Her Cholita series turns common stereotypes on their head: instead of poncho-clad natives, llamas and rural mountain paths, Raab shows us middle-class families at the seashore, urban architectural landscapes, and suburban interiors. Cholita is an ongoing exploration of the photographers’ fractured cultural identity and a personal journey to understand her place in a lost homeland.

Raab_Lunchtime

Lunchtime, Miraflores, Peru, Cholita series, 2009 © Susana Raab

Raab_SurfandBurger
Surf and Burger, Huanchaco, Peru, Cholita series, 2011 © Susana Raab

Raab_Paula

Paula and her Nanny, Playa Asia, Peru, Cholita series, 2009 © Susana Raab

Raab_Julia

Julia, La Costa Verde, Lima, Peru, Cholita series, 2011 © Susana Raab

Susana Raab is the recipient of En Foco’s New Works Photography Fellowship Awards, an annual program selecting three or more U.S. based photographers of Latino, African or Asian heritage, and Native Peoples of the Americas and Pacific, through a national call for entries. The New Works program helps artists to create or complete an in-depth photographic series exploring themes of their choice, and provides the infrastructure needed for national visibility and a professional exhibition of their new work in the New York area. More about her on her En Foco Photographers page and at SusanaRaab.com

Susana’s work is on view as part of New Works #14, at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation’s Skylight Gallery in Brooklyn, through July 1, 2011. Please join us Thursday, April 28, 6-8 pm for the opening reception and Saturday, April 30, 2-4 pm for the artist talk.

Andy Adams is the founder and editor of FlakPhoto.com, a contemporary photography website that celebrates the culture of image-making by promoting the discovery of artists from around the world. An online art space + photography publication, the site provides opportunities for a global community of artists and photo organizations to share new series work, book projects, and gallery exhibitions with a web-based photography audience. More about him at AndyAdamsPhoto.com

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