Over the last five years I have collected archival photos, ranging from the 1950s to 1990s, of Mexican American lowriders in Los Angeles. When the Mayor of Los Angeles instituted a stay-at-home order in March 2020 I thought about what a safe Covid-19 photography project would look like. I created the Recuerdos Project where I explore these vernacular images and post them daily on Instagram. Memories are powerful especially when we are limited in what we can currently do.
From 2014-2019 I worked on a photography book, Cruise Night, about the Mexican American lowrider community in Los Angeles. While I was urged to have a prestigious academic or an art world celebrity write my book essay, I knew that the only text I wanted in the book were the voices of the lowriders. I spent over a hundred hours driving all over Los Angeles County recording oral history of the elder lowriders, people who were the pioneers of this movement.
When we would set up the interview time I inquired whether they had any old photos I could see and if they would let me scan them. I brought my scanner to their homes or auto garages and spent hours sifting through and scanning their photo collections. It is very rare to find these kinds of photos, as many people did not own cameras.
Once the Instagram project began, lowriders from all over California and the Southwest started sending in their photos. The Recuerdos Project has expanded way beyond the images I collected. I am honored by all the memories of love, loss and creativity the lowriding family has shared with me. Its continues to amaze me how the stories weave together and deepen the historical picture of this great American movement.