MARCIA SOLOFF ARTIST STATEMENT
I came to photography, and this body of work, in a nonlinear way. I had studied photography in the places I lived; Chicago, Miami, Boston and Mexico. In 1995, while in Boston, I enrolled in the New England School of Photography where I received considerable encouragement and critical feedback.
In the 1970’s, I spent two years in Mexico City, where I found the culture absorbing and inspiring, connecting deeply to the place. When I returned to Mexico in 1986, I began studying dark room techniques; film processing and printing. I was also photographing in the streets with some colleagues and I noticed that when we appeared to be taking the same shot, the respective images were completely different. “Seeing”, I realized, is a unique act. This realization impelled me to more deeply explore my own particular vision.
A friend and I visited Oaxaca several times in the early 90’s; it was there my photographic interests began to coalesce. We brought clothing and shoes to the people she had befriended. She could not speak Spanish; yet the rapport and openness between her and the Mexican people was extraordinary. This experience enabled me to develop a comfortable interaction with the people I was photographing. I also began to look at other photographers’ work for inspiration: in particular, Helen Levitt and Tina Modotti, as well as Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Lola Alvarez Bravo.
This group of photographs was shot in Mexico, Cuba and Brazil. Children, so central to Latin culture, are everywhere in the streets of these countries. For me, they became a lens into a culture with which I had been unfamiliar, yet in which I felt immediately at home. Their spontaneity and sense of freedom in play may be universal, but their particular stories convey their culture and circumstances. These children were unafraid to share their stories with me, or to look me directly in the eye. They were guileless, forthright and truthful in a way that elicited both joy and sorrow: life had yet to compromise them and, at that moment, they expressed pure potential.
When I see these images, I return to that time and place, feeling the same thrilling ambiguity between delight and disquiet. It was my heart that took these images and in my heart where they remain.