I first came to know Brenda Perry through her work at En Foco. And the images from ”Postmortem Juarez Series” imprisoned me. I wanted to look away but I simply could not. I felt ashamed, frightened, confused but I was still captivated by the series.
“There is a sobering horror to these images. That are wrapped in a comfortable silence.” I quietly thought to myself.
Brenda Perry is an artist who believes that her art — her work — can be seen as an agent of change. So Perry is not creating art for the sake for it. But instead for the idealistic notion that her art can create a visual response. That moves the viewer to change their perception of the immediate world.
Becoming — by extension — an agent of change.
LBTL: What does it mean for you to be a Mexican-American (Latina) photographer?
BP: I find it interesting that others think of me as a “Latina photographer” because I do not necessarily subscribe to any particular labels when I do my work. I simply create work from my point of view about issues that matter to me in whatever medium that best suits the idea—thereby, subjects often include my own culture and region. However, as a “female Mexican-American artist,” I am pleased to be part of a small minority within a larger minority.
LBTL: In your work — is it your hope to create a visual response that transforms the viewer into a tool of change?
BP: Yes. The whole reason for my art making is to be an agent of change.
In our visual culture, art is one of the strongest tools of communication as it can transcend language and cultural barriers. I believe that through the “fiction” of art, we can learn many truths. I want to make the viewer think, so they can carry that with them into the world and hopefully trigger some change one person at a time.
BP: Not as much the images, but rather a sense of awareness and social responsibility to help resolve this problem.
LBTL: ”Conversations with Myself” resonates profoundly with me. As I have my own endless dialogues with Ramon and ramon. How do these inner-conversations develop you — as an artist?
BP: During these inner dialogues, I often think about myself within the whole—-why am I here?…how can my work serve the greater good?…why should it matter? Often, I get so caught up in my own head calculating the next steps in carrying out my plans that I forget I am talking to myself. Being an artist requires a lot of right brain thinking as well as the left.
LBTL: Finish this sentence for me, “When Brenda Perry speaks to young Latina photographers, her goal is to…”
BP: Inspire and motivate. Young creative Latinas must follow their own will and not allow anything or anyone to stop them from reaching their goals—even if those goals involve a career in the arts which is often not seen as a lucrative profession. As a high art school teacher, I see so many incredibly talented Hispanic young ladies who are held back from their own potential due to their economic status, gender or social/cultural expectations of them.
With the minority and gender demographics rapidly changing in this country, these young ladies have the power to change the world in any field they choose. They must know this and become empowered.
Call To Action
I spent a great deal of time speaking with Brenda about the meaning behind her work. But what I believe is most important is, Brenda Perry, the role model. And not for every creative but for a small subgroup — Latina creatives.
So if you are a Latina creative I hope this post inspires you. And if you know of a Latina creative that can benefit from this post, please pass it along.