Of course, a good photographer also has an educated understanding of how to use their tools in a way that assists in capturing that perfect snapshot. And this, I believe, is the perfect segue to shine the spotlight on Bronx photojournalist, Marisol Diaz-Gordon.
The artist's work will be a featured exhibit at Bronx Community College (BCC) CUNY, as part their celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month. Entitled "25: A Retrospective," the opening reception and artist talk will take place on Friday, September 28, 2018, from 12pm to 2pm.
Ms. Diaz-Gordon's exhibition is a retrospective in photographs of the past 25 years since she graduated from a place that she says, "set me on my path to become a photographer." She goes on to praise BCC, which she credits with "learning that my dream of being an artist was possible."
A native of the Bronx, Ms. Diaz-Gordon says she knew she was meant to be a visual artist from the time she was nine years old - the first time her mother taught her how to take a photograph. Crediting both of her parents for the unending support given to her to develop her talent and pursue her dreams, it was her mom, she points out, who exposed her early on, to all forms of creative artistry. From drawing, painting, sewing and other crafts, her mom opened up this world to the artist and consistently encouraged her to follow her passions.
Growing up in the Bronx projects, as a child, she'd save her precious allowance to buy supplies, one or two items at a time, until she built up a collection, allowing her to paint, and draw. Interestingly, her love of photography as a vocation was a process, and was first sparked through an elective class in her last semester at BCC, through which, she discovered her "true love of the art form" and refers to time spent during her college years in the dark room as "magic."
Both shy and reserved by nature, Ms. Diaz-Gordon says that being behind the camera gave her a kind of confidence and strength to go outside her comfort zone. Suffering from undiagnosed dyslexia for most of her life, photography and the visual arts was a way for her to interpret the world and express herself. In fact, she likens going out with her camera as going out into an "open classroom."
Additionally, her interest in photojournalism and long-term projects came as a result of her college documentary class. Selecting a topic for her course assignment did not come easy until one day, she had what she calls a waking dream, whereby she felt compelled to feature nuns for her project. Following up on a suggestion by one of her church priests, Diaz-Gordon found herself at the Corpus Christie Monastery, where she would spend hours and hours, building a close rapport with the nuns, capturing their daily life and weaving a visual story through photographs. Some of her favorite photos, she shared with me, were taken featuring the nuns playing volleyball.
From this poignant experience, the realization was clear to her that photojournalism was a way of conveying her vision in an objective manner for her viewers to see. This led the artist to take on another project, this time with the Fire Department, spending hours - even sleeping over at the firehouse - documenting the firefighters' with a close-up and personal view of their dedication and tireless work.
Both the Monastery and Fire Department projects became part of her portfolio, with which she was able to parlay into becoming a freelancer with local Bronx newspapers, including the Bronx Times.
Her career also included eleven years at En Foco, a non-profit that helps photographers of color. Founded in the 1974 by Puerto Rican photographers, Diaz-Gordon became skilled at developing her eye for selecting art for exhibits and the curating process. This led to teaching photography at the Bronx Museum and creating her own portfolio. At present, she works for Newsday and AM New York.
She believes that the balance she has experienced and continues to maintain between engaging in documentary and fine art projects as well as photojournalism, enables her ongoing creativity in various photographic styles.
"25: A Retrospective" is the second exhibit at BCC for Diaz-Gordon. The artist's first exhibit, ten years ago, was a series of black and white diptych and triptych photos, which won her a BRIO (Bronx Recognizes Its Own) award. She was invited to participate this month in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month as well as to commemorate the 25th anniversary of her graduation from BCC.
The exhibit includes 40 pieces of her work, including photos from both of her documentary series featuring the Corpus Christie Monastery and the Fire Department., up to present day. Diaz-Gordon shared with me, that narrowing down to 40 was no easy task considering the huge archives she has built over the past two and one-half decades.
You can bet I will be there tomorrow for the opening reception. Stay tuned for more!
Opening Reception & Artist Talk:
Friday, September 28, 2018 at 12 PM – 2 PM
Location: Bronx Community College - Bliss Hall
2155 University Ave, Bronx, NY 10453, United States