Chiapas photography project: 'People should be able to speak for themselves'

Juana Lopez Lopez, "Untitled" shadow photo. (Courtesy of the artist, all rights reserved)
Juana Lopez Lopez, "Untitled" shadow photo. (Courtesy of the artist, all rights reserved)

by J. Malcolm Garcia


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Carlota Duarte does not teach in a conventional manner. She asks questions.

"What do you think?" she might ask a participant in the photography project she initiated more than 22 years ago. "What do you like, don't like, in the photograph you've taken? If you could take it again, what would you do differently?"

She paused, leaning back in her chair in the second-floor study of her house where she paints and keeps catalogs of photographs, exhibits and articles about the work.

"Whatever the subject matter, I want participants to respond to that."

The Chiapas Photography Project, started in 1992 by Duarte, a Mexican-American who is a sister with the Society of the Sacred Heart, has trained hundreds of indigenous photographers — Mayan Indians — to tell their own stories through pictures.

Today, the project has accumulated an archive of thousands of images. Many of the photographers have had their work published and exhibited in galleries in the United States, including New York City's, and throughout Mexico, as well as in Iceland, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain.

Read the full story at Global Sisters Report.

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