December 13, 2016
Today I was able to attend Jennifer Garza-Cuen’s lecture. She is a traveler who photographs all the locations she visits. She tells us that she enjoys what she does which is ultimately the most important thing. So far she has visited seven countries and four continents. According to statistics the average American moves nine times and she’s blowing those numbers out of the water. She was born in Seattle, Washington and her love of travel first showed when she was gifted a globe as a child. An important question that she asked during her lecture is what is home? What defines home? Is home naturally where we are from or simply where we feel at home? This question really made me think because I had never really thought about it in that sense. I call my parents house home because that’s all I’ve ever known yet I feel more at home with my roommates here in Reno.
Like I said she takes photographs everywhere she goes as a form of documentation and as a way to remember each location she visits and the history that it holds. One of the first images that she showed us was titled Untitled-Winged Girl Walking Olympia. What you see is an image of a very young looking girl in a white tank top and blue jeans wearing a pair of wings, she is also barefoot. She’s walking down a road that seems to lead to nowhere since all she has on either side of here is trees and brush. The girl in the image seems really small in comparison to everything else in throughout the image. It makes me get the feeling that this girl like Garza-Cuen doesn’t really know where she is going or where she will end up but either way she’s happy doing what she does. I really enjoyed this image because of the context and imagery it holds. It becomes more of a narrative and not just a simple image.
On the topic of simple images, she continued her lecture and eventually showed us images of run down buildings and vacant police stations, which I can honestly say I didn’t enjoy. Yes one can argue that these rundown buildings can also build a narrative but at this point in time they’re just empty buildings and nothing else. Not only that but that’s how they were presented to us. I understand that these images are documentations of her travels but I truly didn’t enjoy them. Anyone can take an image of a building or of an empty police station however it takes some practice to be able to turn it into a strong narrative. I don’t want to criticize her ability to photograph because she’s a wonderful photographer and I personally could never end up with an image like hers but I wouldn’t consider it art. These images don’t evoke emotion, they don’t make me try and look past the simple subjects and can very easily be overlooked.
I enjoyed most of the images that she showed us and there were some that I didn’t quite enjoy but nonetheless she is a very interesting individual. Before today I had never met a traveler, I know people that travel places but have a definitive home unlike her, the road is her home and she never knows where she’s going to end up which sounds scary but an experience like that can have some of the best rewards.