July 13 – September 9, 2022
Artist Reception - 28 July, 6.30 to 8pm
“First Generation” is a long term series that documents the daily life of three generations of my immigrant family— my parents who arrived from Guatemala and El Salvador, and the generations that followed, born in the U.S. As “First Gens,” we have access to privileges that come with being born in the United States. At the same time, we also navigate the particular pressures on our immigrant families, whose lives are marginalized by a society that limits access based on names, status and skin color. The steps on our journey to move up in the world are colored by a goal to honor our family’s hard work and show them their sacrifices were worthy ones.
The exhibition, First Generation: Raíces (Roots), is a branch from the First Generation series. In this body of work, photographs were taken at my mother’s childhood home in Mazatenango, Guatemala. My mother left her home at age sixteen and has only returned once ever since. This is my grandmother’s home. My grandfather passed at fifty and my mother and aunt took on the role of caretakers for the family. Their hard work in the United States has helped fix the infrastructure of this place, to name a few: adding electricity and lights, a floor, ceilings, working water and toilet, and an extra family room. My mother and aunt have fed my grandmother, aunts and cousins for more than 30 years. My mother jokes that their family’s back home will never know how much they break their backs to support them, but all joking aside, they do not wish to return to their casita in Mazate.
In this cultural conversation, I show complexities that we experience with our own identities as members of an immigrant family: engagement, gratitude, devotion and self-determination.
About Iaritza –
Iaritza Menjivar is a documentary photographer whose long term projects aim to empower and represent her immigrant family and community. In 2016 through 2019, she was awarded the presidential scholarship for the “Advanced Mentorship Program in Documentary Projects” at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado . First Generation can be viewed in the New York Times publication, Honoring a Debt to Immigrant Parents and in the recently premiered documentary film, We Are Here Too. Iaritza is an active freelance photographer; her clients include the Washington Post, Maine Media Workshops + College, and LISC among others.
In her role as Events Coordinator at the Somerville Arts Council in Somerville, MA, Iaritza has shaped the focus of the Council’s work to create grant opportunities and event production support for local BIPOC artists. She coordinates festivals, assists with open calls, curation, and public art installations, and builds relationships with organizations and businesses in the local area. Iaritza is a member of the Arts and Cultural Plan Task Force focusing on creating a sustainable plan for equity and inclusion, space risk assessments and accessibility within the arts in the city.
Before joining the Arts Council, Iaritza served as the Associate Director at the Griffin Museum of Photography from mid 2017 through 2020. Iaritza has also served as a panel judge for the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Photography Fellowships, a guest curator for The Fence competition, and participated as a panelist on “Photographing Family: the Personal Becomes Political” at the AIPAD Talk series, “The Photography Show” in New York.