A Love Letter to Oaxaca

We are pleased to introduce a photo series of portraits of local artists and makers by artist April Valencia, shot throughout Oaxaca, Mexico. Hear in her words what inspired these transporting images.


April Valencia
Visual Artist, Advocate, and Creative Director of Masa Memory

Wearing the MAIDA dress

This project began as an ongoing self portrait series, a series I expanded on by slowly and timidly, including other women. I wanted to document the various sides in which we discover and reconnect to ourselves, as artist—in a moment, in our mother land or a place in nature that represents a sense of… returning. 

Wearing the MAIDA dress 

My hope with this series is to try and document a relationship—the almost secret conversation happening between women, their art and their land. How is a connection to our environment molding a sense of identity. Does this affect how we create?


Wearing the MAIDA dress

Before I photographed each woman, I asked: Can we see or feel reflections of ourselves in one another? How can we hold space for each other by creating space for ourselves? What does an awareness to our surroundings reveal about spirit? What shape does it hold? What sound does it make…?


Martha Alicia
Sculptor, Ceramist, Mover

Wearing the ESSAOUIRA dress

Photographed in Oaxaca on the land where she digs clay to make her ceramics—land she has returned to after living in the city, to build a home and work in the studio that once belonged to her Abuela.


Wearing the SOLIMAN dress


Sandra De León Torres
Painter and Storyteller

Wearing the ESSAOUIRA dress

Photographed in Oaxaca in a village where she was teaching children how to explore their creative voice, while preserving passed down family wisdom. The first time I saw Sandra’s work, I was transported back to the Sonoran desert. The colors of her home in Guatemala matched the memory of my own home in Arizona. With this connection between our lands, I knew I had to photograph her for this series.

Wearing the PARADIS dress


Vianey Jimenez
Climate Activist, Researcher, Alternative Tourism Guide

Wearing the MARTEL dress

I met Vianey on the coast of Oaxaca, while taking an early swim before the hot day began. We were the only ones in the water. She was snorkeling and swam far out towards the rocks I would watch everyday from the shore, wondering if I was brave enough to swim closer to them. I was instantly drawn to the way Vianey belonged to the water and the way the ocean seemed to follow behind her when she swam out back onto land.


Wearing the PARADIS dress


Opens in a new window Opens an external site Opens an external site in a new window