1. How are you holding up?
I am doing fine, all things considered. I do have to admit though, that I am shocked by what I am reading and seeing about human behavior on social media and the web in regards to this virus. Back in January, I remember being so profoundly moved by the image in the NY Times of a man lying dead in the street in Wuhan when all this began. At the time, I couldn’t believe it was true myself. But today, I cannot understand how people still think that this virus is fake and act as if they will never get it. I carry that NY Times image with me and it keeps me grounded. I continue to be incredibly grateful and thankful that I have the time to invest in my work, my projects, and my family.
As I watch our nation protest, demand justice and equality, and fight for the pursuit of happiness, I am hopeful for change. I hope my work is a valued part of that movement.
2. Has COVID-19 had an effect on your work? If so, in what way?
On January 27, I began to live out the most splendid opportunity life had offered me to date. I was one of three artists selected for the Spring 2020 International Artist in Residence program at Artpace in San Antonio.
For those who do not know about Artpace, the founder, Linda Pace, wanted to create a space in San Antonio, Texas that brought international artists to the Southwest and for the work of one artist in Texas to go out into the world. The residency gives the artists total freedom to create their work. They are only limited by their own imagination. Some previous residents include Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Cornelia Parker, and Glenn Ligon. So this was my opportunity to think about making art beyond the limits of photography. In addition to making images and a handmade artist book, I created collages, installations, and a sculpture for my project, The Land of Illustrious Men. The residency lasts for two months. The work each artist creates is exhibited at Artpace for another two months. The scheduled reception for our opening was supposed to take place on March 19. If I recall correctly, we were all going on lockdown then, and the opening was postponed. The 25th Gala Anniversary celebration for Artpace was also scheduled to take place on March 21. To this day, the work is still hanging at Artpace as if nothing has ever happened. We are all still in limbo, but for now I am happy that my family and I are happy and healthy.
3. Is there anything you’ve added to your practice that you’d like to keep after this is over?
Yes. The most important is that I am in Artist Mode 24 hours of the day. Everything I do has to do with the creation of my artwork. I see myself having no limits. I want to explore as many mediums as I can: it could be painting, video, film, collage, sculpture, and maybe even performance.
4. Of the artists you follow, who’s handling this particularly well?
To be honest, I can’t answer that.
Early on in his career, Daniel firmly decided that the people in his life—family, friends, co-workers—would be the subjects of his work. He would use photography as a vehicle to amplify their presence in the world, to speak about who and what he cared about.
He has continued making work with his family as the subject and has recently begun moving beyond the single image convention of picture-making. His recent residency in March 2020 at Artpace in San Antonio, Texas gave him the opportunity to explore this expanded way of working even further. He created a series of collages and installations about his family’s journey crossing the border from Mexico to the US and how this has shaped their lives and his own life as well.
Daniel Ramos graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Photography in 2003, and studied for an MFA at California College of the Arts in 2007.
In 2018, he won the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize and his most recent work has been featured in the 2019 Center Annual Exhibition at the Houston Center for Photography, AI-AP Latin American Fotografia 7, and the Lenscratch DeveloperX For Freedoms online gallery.
IGTV Artpace Video Studio Visit/Chat link: https://bit.ly/39jJ9le