Dear Viewer… The students of Las Fotos Project invite you to a multitude of worlds. The Esta Soy Yo: Layers class is where student photographers are further identified as artists. They used photographic art-making to explore concepts of creativity, identity, and self-discovery.

The students created photo assemblages, collages, and zines to ask significant questions, explore internal dialogues, and leave gentle reminders or messages to their future selves. Both symbols and language are embedded throughout the students’ photographs to intentionally explore their heritage, highlight their daily interactions, and uplift those around them. These artworks reflect fragments from their past along with current passions, worries, hopes, and aspirations. As their confidence grew with each activity, the students became immersed in their emotions and capabilities, to slowly manifest all the layers that make them who they are.

Capturing the beauty around them in this way allows these artists to achieve their maximum expression. At the same time, they encourage the viewer to imagine, find inspiration, and practice kindness to themselves.

Bella Granados

Alejandra De la Fuente, Ana Rivas, Jenna Benty, Julia Chavez, Lisa Amezcua, Martina Ibanez-Baldor, Mayan Alvarado-Goldberg

#1: Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
For this artwork, I wanted to create an analogy between Halloween movies and anxiety. The Halloween movies I would watch as a child would always have the same plot, wait for the ghosts to come out on Halloween, the day they feel as if they belong, scare the kids, and the protagonists would have to save the day. There’s all this chaos, but at the end of the day, it goes back to normal. I have the same relationship with this mental illness. When I know I’m going out, I get this tension in my chest, however, once I’m socializing I feel as if I belong, and my negative thoughts turn off. Only for me to get home and feel drained, those thoughts turn back on and it goes back to normal.

#2: Homage to the Women I Grew Up With
 For project #2 I wanted to illustrate nostalgia. The window represents protection from the outside while bringing light in. Every object here is a memento of the women I grew up with. They remind me of the highs in my childhood, of my grandmas watering their plants, taking my first picture on a point and shoot, and of my sister and I coming home from elementary school and listening to Taylor Swift.

#3: Clean
For this project, I filled my tub with balloons. Growing up, taking showers was doable until I left the people I grew up with. The balloons embody a celebration when I can get myself out of my bed and into the shower. I can think about the future without worrying about how I will get there. The landscape in the background portrays those thoughts of the future while providing comfort. I feel content looking at the details where the sun hits or how the shadows look. The landscape gives me hope, which is hard to find on certain days.

#1: Sweet Sixteen

Am I supposed to feel different? I am finally sixteen, yet I feel the same. Why isn’t this like the movies? Shouldn’t I suddenly be wiser; I’m finally sixteen. Why don’t I recognize myself? I’m sixteen now, I should look and feel older. I am happy to be sixteen, but why do I feel so sad? Why isn’t anyone celebrating with me? I’m finally sixteen, but why don’t I feel like it. Do you know who you are? I still don’t know who I am.

#2: Get Out of Your Imagination
The image I took is of me in fairy wings. I’m almost halfway into being an adult, and I am still trying to grasp my childhood. When I was little, I would get “trapped” in my imagination. I would tend to make up stories about being a fairy after watching too many episodes of The Winx Club. One of my all-time favorite things to do when I was little looked at the sky when I would be on a swing or just lying on the ground. One of the materials I used was pictures and art clips; one of the clippings being clouds. When I look at this project, it makes me feel nostalgic. Right above my picture, there’s this girl who seems to be yelling wake up. I did this because when I was little I would dream about being a fairy. Now that I’m “older” I need to wake up to reality.

#3: Darkness
This picture describes how I’ve felt during these past few years. The saying “It’s dark right now, I can’t see any light around me” means so many different things to me. The feeling of wanting to be in a dark secluded area, just to feel safe by yourself. I tend to spend more time alone than with other people. It felt so lonely during the quarantine. We’ve been out of the social norm for 9 months. Throughout that time, I had learned new things about myself and had to face the demons in my head at times. I was able to express myself using fashion and makeup as well, which helped with making me seem like everything is okay. The current state of time has given me worse anxiety; sometimes all I see is darkness.

#1: Pups View
For my first project, I wanted to focus on points of view. I attempted to write from my dog Toby’s perspective because I wanted to show his emotions. Before I got Toby, I felt like I was missing out on the classic childhood story of being a kid raised with a dog. Because Toby is my first dog, our relationship is similar to what I would have liked it to be in my childhood. I remember not sleeping the night I got him because he was whining, and that was the moment I realized that I was going to dedicate all my energy to taking care of him. On the glass I wrote, “Shes my best friend, mom caretaker… I’m her son, happiness, and shoe-eater,” because I wanted to show how much love and care we have for each other. The broken glass is significant also to our relationship. He annoys me and I annoy him.

#2: Layers of Betsy
I would describe my project as meaningful and volumized. My inspiration for this piece of art came from my interest in point of view because thinking in other people’s perspective keeps me in check with reality. When I was creating this project my goal was to share my point of view to others and I wanted the audience to feel questionable.My favorite part about this project is all the colors I put in it.

#3: Growth
I would describe my project as self reflection at its finest. My inspiration for this piece of art came from my past because it was really dark for me and I wanted something good to come out .When I was creating this project my goal was to show my reflection and I wanted the audience to feel like there is always a great outcome out of a bad experience. My favorite part about this project is that I created this online.

#1: A Wilting Home
This project was inspired by a sense of belonging and home. In this project, I took a picture of my grandmother’s living room. The colors contrasted each other creating a soft and warm texture, making me feel comfortable, and one day I hope to have the same feeling when I create a home of my own. I placed flowers around the image knowing that by the time the image is posted the flowers would have died. I did this because I want to symbolize that all good and beautiful things will come to an end. My grandmother’s house has been put up for sale, and I will no longer be able to call this place home— like the flower, it will no longer be alive or home.

#2: Konnections
For this project, I used a record as the base and as the image, I chose to use a power line that is located near my home. I decorated it with different colored buttons that I had each of my family members pick that represented them. Then tied the thread around the buttons and connected it to the powerline. What this image symbolizes is that you don’t have to have the same preferences to have a connection to your loved ones or people you care about. Differences are what empower us to have stronger bonds. The addition of the light bulbs on top of the powerline represented the empowerment of our relationships that brightened our way to who we are.

#3: Letter for the Future
In this project, I chose to photoshop this image because at that moment in time I was overwhelmed with negative thoughts about my appearance and whether my photos will come out the way I want them to look. I decided to add flowers around me to symbolize love and desire. I want to be able to love and appreciate myself without having to always bring myself down. I overthink everything, which has caused lots of complications in my life. That is why I added a dark and demonic hand reaching over me, it represented all the negative thoughts that are constantly causing me to rethink my self-worth.

#1: Home Alone
I let out a sigh as I glance at the time on my computer. I’m too tired to continue working so I decide to stop here and pick it back up in the morning. The sun shines through my blinds as I peek open my eyes. I freeze realizing I slept in, I didn’t wake up early to finish homework like I had planned. I continue this cycle as my work continues to pile up screaming at me to hurry up.

#2: Character Development
You have always looked up to people. This led you to not see yourself as a leader but more of a follower. Due to your shy behavior, you found it more comforting to be average rather than express your true nature. At some point, this turned into obsessing over what others think of you. You were always so concerned about whether or not you would fit in because you despised the idea of standing out. The world is going to judge you no matter what you do, so live your life how you want to. The moment you stop caring about what others think of you is the moment you will truly start living.

#3: Quiet Quarantine
The streets aren’t nearly as crowded and the sun isn’t nearly as bright. The gloomy day looms over my head as I grab my mask and head outside. I keep my head down not wanting to look at the frustrated faces of other.

#1: La Cultura
I captured two cacti plants in my backyard for this project. I decided to use this image for this project because of how prominent cacti are interlaced in Mexican culture. For this photo to glass transfer, I used old images of my parents when they were younger and pictures of my siblings and me. My image of the cacti connects my Mexican background to my family and how they are both “roots” to my identity.

#2: Mujer
“Mujer” (woman) is a photo assemblage I created, including a self-captured, black and white image of my back, framed with magazine cutouts of women’s eyes and mouths. My face is hidden in the image, to allow the viewer to see themselves in my work. The eye and mouth cutouts represent the idea that women support one another. We speak up and watch out for each other. This project further emphasizes that I am continuously uplifted by the women in my life.

#3: Growth
For this collage I used an image of myself, reaching towards the camera. This project challenged me to be in front of the camera. I used this collage as an opportunity to self reflect on my past self, the theme that I chose to focus on was growth. I decided to include objects from space in this project as a reminder of how big the universe is and how much room there is for self-improvement. That despite past mistakes having the mentality of growth, will keep moving me forward.

#1: Growth is The New In
We leave the old us and come back with the new. We come back stronger and know that what we once were, helped us grow into someone who is much better.

#2: Relaxation.
Focus on what you love. Focus on what you shall enjoy. Focus on giving yourself time to be happy. Never give up on yourself.

#3: Self Love
Recently I’ve been battling with self love and I slowly have grown and told myself that I am the way I am and that no matter what I should love myself. I added double to what i find more hard to love and what I am actually in love with now.

#1: Your Mirror
In Japan, the meaning of Koi Fish is good fortune or luck. They also are associated with perseverance in adversity and strength of purpose in which I believe we are all capable of having. As you view this photo, you may see your reflection. This is your mirror. In fact, the world is your mirror and it loves what it sees. And if you do not like what you see well then, there is always room for self improvement.

#2: First Day of My Life
This photo captured represents the first day of my life in which I spent a really meaningful day with a new friend. It holds a powerful meaning of change. Although most people do not like change, I think it is good. Yes it is uncomfortable, sometimes sad or frustrating, but it is not until you realize that change is okay, which is when the first day of your life begins.

#3: Within Yourself
Resolve your own traumas from within and express your emotions. Open your heart although it may be the most painful experience you’ve ever encountered. But opening your heart will allow you to melt your old ego and become the best version of yourself. You will create love, peace, and happiness within yourself in which you could feel from the bottom of your toes to the palms of your hands. And every soul you touch will feel this beautiful energy. This energy and reality that is so delicate in which you created from within yourself.

#1: Art
This is my art and I like it.

#2: Aesthetic Art
I really like the aesthetic vibe. It is calming.

#3: Be Happy
I like cartoon art and digital art. I think it is really cool.

#1: Happy Thoughts
To think happy thoughts that you feel like you’re no longer touching the ground. Laying among the clouds, the wind through your hair. What it must be like to look down at the vast world below you and see the people below you as if they were ants.

#2: Field of Thoughts
A field of flowers, beautiful, and bright— to sit and ponder and think soothing thoughts. Oh what it must be like to sit in a field of flowers and bask in their liveliness, to feel their energy as you sit among them.

#3: Journey of Self
To be on a journey of self-discovery. Trying to constantly answer questions that one asks themselves over and over again. Some of these questions are scary, ones that you’ll try to avoid for as long as possible. Though at some point on your journey, you have to ask yourself a question that will possibly be the most difficult to answer, are you ok with yourself?

#1: The Oldest of Three
My main theme when working on my project was identity, and the sub-theme was older adolescence. My natural defense mechanism or just a natural profile is an empty face. She looks kind of mad, kind of sad, and overall out of it. Decorating my glass transfer are stickers and an info card with things about me. On the back of the glass, there’s a little poem talking about how I feel about where I am. The glass in front of my image serves as a window or mirror for you to look at me, and all the information I’ve provided should tell you everything about me – but for some reason, it still doesn’t feel enough. That’s how I’ve felt throughout quarantine, but also throughout my time as a teenager—weirdly shallow and a bit of a mystery.

#2: Sister
The photo I used was one of my sister. The photo was colorful so the accessories I used were also very colorful. We’re both our best selves when we’re with each other, so I wanted the colors to reflect how I feel when we’re together.

#3: Patience ft. Friends
Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner, you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they.”

~ Leonardo da Vinci

#1: Capable of Ease
Taking a photo of yourself can be difficult or awkward for a lot of people. This is something that I felt while I was going through the process of taking photos. I am not that confident about taking pictures yet, especially when the subject is myself. I wanted my photo to focus on how it was not just myself but my younger sibling who looked way more comfortable when taking the shot unlike me. The poem that I wrote along with the piece was to capture the way that I felt during that photoshoot.

#2: Curiosity
Everyone has something that they entertain themselves with now and then. I am constantly looking for something new or interesting to try out. I wanted to convey a message that explained how I felt looking for new curricular activity to pass my time with.

#3: Carefree
Can someone tell where time will lead them? This is one of the questions I ask in my piece. Does he know what will lie ahead for him now and the future. Time is never something that can be told just like what will happen in the future. My little brother is still young so he doesn’t know much about the world and how it works but as his older sibling I have seen how it is. Time isn’t something that you can predict but something that you have to accept and go along with it.