In my photo series, “On The Other Side”, I trained my lens inward to create a portrait not of an individual but of our country, using mythical and actual history to explore metaphorical barriers.

I chose to use an authentic Native American tepee as the backdrop for every photo in this series. Used by nomadic North American Plains Indians, first as a temporary dwelling and then later as a year-round home, I use it here as a representation for those seeking a new home—a place of safety and freedom—in a climate where people are both “the other” and on “the other side” and barriers of every nature stand in their way. 

I employ the canvas, folds, poles and openings of the tepee to create a metaphorical barrier for the viewer to face head-on. The structure suggests the cultural, gender-based, interpersonal and emotional barriers encompassed under the umbrella of immigration. I am attempting to visualize the past as it repeats itself in the here and now. 

The performative nature of this project, the objects I chose, the use of shadows and sunlight, the placement of my family and friends, the cages, flags, chains, bones, shells and fruit build the narrative. These elements are on the other side, helping to transport the images into the domain of the surreal and represent the forbidden and prohibited. 

We have become a nation obsessed with “the other side” and “the other”— how they are defined, to let them in or keep them out and why.  

My intent is for these images to be seen large—at least 36 x 24, so the viewer can become immersed in the experience.