Mentor/Mentee pair Amina Cruz and Textli Gallegos work together on LFP’s Exposures project, an online collaboration between creative communities in Vermont, Tijuana and Oregon. Both women are from Los Angeles; Amina works in the Art department for different TV shows and Textli attends Los Angeles County School for the Arts in East Los Angeles. They recently sat down for a chat and here’s what they had to say!
Amina: What do you like to do in your free time? [And] why did you decide to get involved with Las Fotos Project?
Textli: I like to take photography, of course. Read. Watch TV. Hang out with my friends and create art. I wanted another way to be involved with my community, and then my nina showed me the website and I saw that I could learn a different form of art…Why did you decide to get involved with Exposures as a mentor?
Amina: I really love Las Fotos Project. I love photography and I wanted to be involved in helping to shape young girls lives, especially when it combines photography and the process of finding yourself and creativity.
Textli: What has been the most rewarding part of being a mentor?
Amina: Watching my mentees grow or seeing their curiosity. And just knowing I’m being of service…How has being a part of Exposures affect your social life, or your family life?
Textli: Exposures has boosted my self-esteem and my social life. My friends have felt closer to me because now that I have this confidence to go out and shoot without feeling scared to ask somebody if I can take their picture, I just kind of do it. My family wants me to take pictures everywhere I go. Like at Easter I had to take pictures of my cousins…[so] I couldn’t participate in anything else. Do you think that you have changed as a result of your work with Exposures?
Amina: I’m definitely just a happier person, I think. I loved being involved in my community and watching everyone grow and also meeting other mentors. I feel “a part of”. [And my relationship with my mentee is] growing…every time I meet with her it grows and I really enjoy that. I think there’s trust there and we’re both very similar, so I’m glad I can assist on making some decisions or share my processes with her. She [also] shows up for herself [and] she puts the footwork in…privately, at school or with her friends, whatever it is, and I love that.
Textli: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience?
Amina: It’s been fun. I love going on the field trips, meeting other mentors, meeting people who also have the same interests as you and you really feel a part of a community. What have you done in the program that you are most proud of and why?
Textli: The thing that I’m most proud of is being accepted to Exposures’ summer program last year, where I went to South Dakota Pine Ridge. And I had that experience there. It was really amazing and now I can see the world in a different way and art through a different lens.
Amina: Do you think you’ve changed since joining the program? If so how?
Textli: I’ve become more of a confident person. I don’t hesitate to take a photo anymore. Before I would kind of think about it and be like “Would that make a cool photo or would it not?” Now I kind of just do it and if it makes a cool photo, sweet! But if it doesn’t – oh well, it doesn’t hurt.
Amina: Describe the project you’re currently working on [and] tell us how you envision the final project. How do you want it to look?
Textli: I just finished the “Culture in School Project”. I shot on 2 rolls of film and we’re going to send it to TJ and Vermont and they’re going to shoot over it and we’ll see how that comes out.
For my final project I’m going to be doing some wheat pasting. I’m going to print out some of my photos and then either paste them to a piece of wood and leave it like that or I’m going to paste it somewhere where there is graffiti or a cool spot and take a photo of that. But I’m still brainstorming on ideas- that’s what I have so far.
Amina: How has having a mentor helped you in the program? Describe your relationship with your mentor.
Textli: Having a mentor has boosted my self-confidence…because they reassure me to keep doing what I love…They encourage me and make me feel proud of my work whereas if I was by myself I’d be criticizing my work way more than I need to be. I can call my mentor my friend. She’s a really cool person and she helps me a lot, like where I start to doubt where I am in my life she takes away those doubts and encourages me, pumps me up and makes me realize that everything is possible.