There is a reflective characterization about Karen Miranda-Randa, a multifaceted, multi-layered disposition, which allows Miranda to paint these exceedingly emotive stories. Her photographic work is peppered with such stories -- such as Other Stories I or Eyeke or Urcu Manga.
Each "photostory" is a depiction of personal events which define a rite of passage. These ritual events, not only define Karen Miranda as a Latina photographer but they define her photography.
LBTL: How has being a Latina photographer influenced your choice of projects?
KM: For most of my life, I grew up in South America, I heard of the term "Latina" when I was in my 20s and by then I was already working in the visual arts. It was in NYC that I fully comprehended what it meant to share a common language, culture, and even struggles and joys with a community.
This is how Bliss St. started, a project that really helped me understand and explore the life of Latinos in NYC becoming very personal and a challenge at times. However, it was a project that also showed me the simplest joys of life and the laughs "between the lines."
Beside Bliss St. I am mostly interested in deeper human relations, personal stories and rites that link us in wider spectrums.
LBTL: Do you find yourself thinking "I wish there were more Latina photographer role models?" Who is your role model?
KM: That is an interesting question; a year ago, I noticed that most of my favorite books where black and white and done by mostly men. So I spent a good amount of time trying to find women photographers that I admire, especially from Latin America. In that search, I found: Graciela Iturbide, Adriana Lestido, Maria Cristina Orive, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Sara Facio, the photomontages of Grete Stern and Alessandra Sanguinetti (the only photographer on this list that shoots color).
I do wish to see more Latin American female photographers that cross and redefine the ideas of contemporary photography and I do know that they are out there, we just need to find each other.
As for role model? I have plenty. I love the compositions of Won Kar Wai, the stories of Pan Nanlin, the dreams of Kurosawa, and Parajanov, the sublime eye of Massao, the visual poetry of Iturbide, the tenacity of Abramovic, the creation stories of the people in the Amazon, the sand maps of the Dine, the bittersweet laughs of my family in the Andean mountains, it could go on but I'll narrow it down to this.
LBTL: I'm curious about your work with the Waoranis. What was it that drew you into the Ecuadorian Amazon?
KM: In 2007 I was working as a photojournalist for a national newspaper in Ecuador. It was my first photo related job, and as the "newbie" I would get the worst possible covers and shifts all the time. One day we received a fax saying "indios de la amazonia talan arbol por intercambio de un plato de arroz con lenteja" (natives from the amazon cut down trees in exchange for a plate of rice and beans).
I was the one that got the report from the telefax and as I was taking the note to my editor I was so touched by such a reality that I immediately volunteered to take the 17 hour bus ride and cover the news.
Call To Action
The creative road has countless destinations. And each destination is peppered with roads less traveled. I find that the creatives who are eager to brave the unmarked roads fail. But it is in this failure that we grow. That we learn more of ourselves than at any other time.
But don't fear the failure. Simply embrace the road less traveled and find your rite of passage.