A Photoessay on Immigration
I’m a first -generation child of immigrants, dealing with the complexities of familial love and the effects the Latin American diaspora has had on this love.
The photographs used are the few family photos that exist of my family’s lives, both here and before they migrated to this country. The text is from personal interviews that I conducted with my parents, correspondences with my maternal grandmother, notes scrawled on the backs of photographs, and words that exist in my memory. I asked my parents about their lives before me, before they met each other, and before they left their war-torn and military-governed countries of El Salvador and Argentina, respectively. Together, the prints represent a history that I have reappropriated that serve me as reminders of our pasts and our future.
At the time that I created the work, I had not gone to see my family in El Salvador or Argentina in over 15 years. The title, presented in Spanish, like much of my work, came from a conversation with my parents. We were talking about the feeling of being split in two and having one foot in the past (El Salvador or Argentina) and the other in the future (the United States), and I felt the same way, regardless of having the privilege of being born here. There was a whole other separate life, land, and people who loved me, and I them, but we had no concrete memories of time spent together. Thus leaving me to wonder how love could exist across socially constructed borders, and what lay in the space between love and the physical distance that separated us.
Spring 2016, Volume XV, Number 3
Kimberly M. Benavides, a graduate of Corcoran College of Art and Design, uses photography to reflect on her Hispanic identity.
The mangy dogs strolled everywhere along the railroad track. I remembered dogs just like them from the long-ago day in La Chacra in 1979 with Archbishop Óscar Romero, just months before he was killed…
My father was a civil engineer who worked for the government during the civil war years. He specialized in roads and had to spend several days a month traveling to remote places in El Salvador. I was 10 in 1986, and I remember my mom asking my dad…
I had forgotten how beautiful El Salvador is. The fragrance of ripening rose apples mixed with the tropical breeze. A mockingbird sang off in the distance. Flowers were everywhere: roses, orchids, sunflowers, bougainvillea and the creamy white izote flower…