Creative Quarantine: Photographer Daniel Ramos

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.

Pilo In Leaves
Lampazos De Naranjo, Nuevo León, Mexico 2016
© Daniel Ramos

Pilo Santos relaxes in a pile of leaves at Ojo de Agua, the local spring in Lampazos. Pilo is an adventurous and resilient 10-year-old. His father was my childhood friend and his family continues to be a part of my life.

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.

Lampazos De Naranjo, Nuevo León, Mexico 2002
© Daniel Ramos

When I look back on all the summers I spent with my grandmother Mela in Mexico, it reminds me of how lucky I was to be loved by her.

Ericko Santo
Chicago, Illinois, USA 2000
© Daniel Ramos

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.

Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico 2018
© Daniel Ramos

4. Of the artists you follow, who’s handling this particularly well?

To be honest, I can’t answer that.

Kampala, Uganda, Africa 2006
© Daniel Ramos

Franklin Park, Illinois, USA 2002
© Daniel Ramos

Valledupar, Colombia 2010
© Daniel Ramos

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.

My Grandfather Pedro
Iramuco, Guanajuato, Mexico 2001
© Daniel Ramos

I visited my grandfather Pedro once a year and on every visit, I would make a photograph of him. He lived a very simple life and was at the mercy of what his children would send him from the United States. My grandfather never had a negative thing to say to me. On the contrary, of all my family, he was the most fun to spend time with. He had a sense of adventure and loved to think he was someone else.

Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico 2018
© Daniel Ramos

La Faena
Mexico City, Mexico 2018
© Daniel Ramos

La Faena is a bar and bullfighting museum located in the historic center of Mexico City.
It is filled with paintings, vintage posters, and costumes of famous matadors.

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.


Instagram: @danielramosphoto

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