This week I was able to talk to Jessica Bardales, a Fine Arts major at Cal State Long Beach. Jessica is in the photography program, and it is easy to see why: her talent for capturing the human experience. Jessica is very interested in the power dynamic between the photographer and the person being photographed. She works to break that barrier, so that the person in the photo does not feel vulnerable to the photographer, but open so that she may capture the true human nature. This piece titled “Youth: Portraits of Identity and Expression”, was probably my favorite piece so far in the galleries. I think this is because I could relate to the people in the photos, especially the girl with the blue hair. Jessica state that she wanted to reach a range of people with her photos, and I think that is exactly what she achieved by making them relatable to the common person.
This piece came from Jessica’s idea that some people’s experiences in life are more valued than others, and that all experiences and identities should be valued. Jessica believes in socialization, people being shaped by institutions and those around them. She believes that society pushes people to take on certain identities, that the youth are “conditioned” by their parents and other peers. Personally, I agree and I think that is what made me fall in love with her photographs: that these are all people that are struggling against stereotypes or are following the status quo. The two photographs I liked most were the ones shown above and were interestingly, both of women struggling against society’s stereotypes. The young woman with the child, only fifteen, is photographed in a manner that makes her look almost empowered, which conflicts with society’s idea that getting pregnant while young is a negative thing. This negative ideal was most likely brought along by media such as “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom”. I really enjoyed that Jessica’s photograph showed a different, more positive side to being young with a child. Instead of highlighting the young mother’s inexperience, Jessica shows that being with child made the girl transform into a woman. A mother who is supporting her child, strong and protective.
I identify most with the girl with the blue hair in the second photograph above. Jessica photographed her because of her abnormal hair and the style of her clothing/room decor, thinking she was sort of “punk rock”. Though the normal is definitely not blue hair, this girl owns her nature and identity, even if it is not a popular one. I think that is why I identify with her, because I have always been some what abnormal with the way I act, dress, and think. I have had to own my identity and realize that being different is not a bad thing. When I realized that, I grew to love myself and the things that separated me from everyone else, I didn’t want to be like anyone else. What is funny about learning to love yourself is that when you become confident in who you are, people tend to accept you more. I think this is a valuable lesson to be learned, especially in a society that supports uniformity.
I absolutely loved Jessica Bardales work, if you would like to learn more about this piece you can visit: http://www.daily49er.com/diversions/2014/10/28/portraits-of-an-honest-youth/