photography by annie appel
film-based work *
Maria, Jaime, Carmelita,Jaime's mother, Pinto
|Doña Lupe and grandchildren
|Andres, Angélica, Carmelita
|Doña Lupe, Angélica, Alex, Marta
|Carmelita, Carlos, Alex, Maria
|Cristina, Brian, Armando Jr, Armando
|Armando, Armando Jr, Brian
The project began with a chance encounter. In
summer 1994, while traveling in Baja, Mexico, I
met María. Eight months pregnant and
accompanied by two young daughters, she was
trudging up a dirt road to take lunch to her
husband. I offered water and drawing pencils.
In exchange, they invited me to join them. The
family lived in a two-room, adobe house that
Jaime, Maria's husband, had built of bricks he
made from local clay. I believed they had a more
immediate kind of life than I did. Their humanity
seemed more raw than what I knew. I promised
myself to document their world for a decade.
That commitment stretched to two decades.
During my 23 visits, spaced according to my
resources, my cameras and journals tracked life
transitions. I imagined the outcome as a simple,
yet universal, story: One family, their war on
poverty, and the broad devastation wrought by
generations of illiteracy. The work shifted over
time to include a tale of friendship, trust, and
how strangers become family.