I have long been interested in how individuals choose to move through the world, starting with the life they are given and moving on to one they create. Photographic portraiture has the power to capture this journey between what we inherit and what we choose. My artwork strives to provide insights into a subject’s choices within the social systems they inhabit. By incorporating relationships, circumstances, and environments, I aim to give context and a narrative quality to the portraits and evince an understanding of the subject’s identity.
In 2018, I learned about the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (Metro) inaugural Women and Girls Governing Council (WGGC), which is tasked with improving women’s relationship to public transportation. The Council of 2018 comprised 60 Metro employees with diverse backgrounds. After attending a WGGC meeting in April 2018, I began to understand the scope of their work. The council discussed personal safety, the hiring process, women’s travel patterns through the region, and many other critical issues. By spending time with individual members, I also witnessed the immense “backstage” of LA public transportation: maintenance hallways, voltage controls, signal log books, emergency exit hatches, cot rooms, service pits, and archives that include every bus and subway schedule dating back to the 1960s.
With Forward Motion (2018-2019), I highlight the women of the Council as well as the environment in which they work. WGGC members volunteered to be photographed in a formal studio setting, and the portraits are adjoined to photographs of Metro infrastructure. The resulting photo collages are shaped by silhouette outlines of Metro’s various districts. The artworks were assembled into a publication and an accompanying exhibition in the Union Station Passageway Gallery. Each individual artwork, and the series as a whole, alludes to the vastness of LA’s public transportation system, the public it serves, and the empowerment of women.
My hope is that the Metro patrons who experience these artworks will understand these women to be guides, guardians, and builders of Los Angeles.