Oxiea Villamonte

Term: February-April 2024

Throughout my childhood, my mother often told me a story her mother told her as a child. The story is about the last leaf. This leaf resists the harsh weather and changing seasons with all its strength and refuses to let go. This story is about resilience; this story is about my grandmother, my mother, and myself. My mother is my muse. 

The first book I published is titled Next of Kin. In Next of Kin, I combined my mother’s archive and my own photographs. I wanted the viewer to think that we are one person. I wrote, “When looking in a mirror, I see my mother staring back at me.” I am fascinated by what we inherit from our upbringing. We inherit our parents’ past, and at some point, we are confronted by it. Then, it is up to the individual to decide how they deal with that past. Do they ignore it, or do they heal? 

I see more of my mother in me every day. In Next of Kin, I went searching for similarities and differences. I wanted the viewer to think that we are the same person and that our lives are intertwined, which they are. 

My work starts with my personal archive in order to remember, discover, and give the archive a new life. My practice involves observing, encountering people, and asking questions about what I do not know. I photograph with my archive in mind while searching for my own identity. This process becomes visible through printing and publishing. 

My practice is very research-based. Last year, I travelled throughout America for ten months, guided by my parents’ archive. I revisited places and people from their past to try to understand their past and discover how their past influenced my present.

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