Review: Christina Fernandez’s photographs, on view in Riverside, are a major pivot in Chicano art. Fernandez, 33 year-old, was raised in a household in which both she and her father were both creative. “I was always exposed to a lot of work, not just art,” she said. “I was always surrounded with great art, so I guess that was a bit of an influence.” Her father is a sculptor, and his best-known piece, the Fountain of Flowers, is located in Tijuana. “It’s my favorite piece,” she said.
For her photography, Fernandez decided to go back to a period when photography was not as common. To find her period, she started at the San Ysidro border, where she photographed a woman who was working in the building next to hers holding a baby. The two met during a lull in their conversation and started photographing one another. “That’s when it clicked in me that I wanted to go back to an earlier era when there was no Photoshop and no digital cameras, and it wasn’t about how many clicks the shutter makes or where the light goes,” she said. “It was about telling a story with images.”
She took a break from photography when she moved to Los Angeles, where she started to work at a nonprofit that teaches young people about the visual arts, called La Mujer. In the fall of 2012, she returned to California, where she received a grant to fund a year’s worth of travel in Mexico. By January 2013, she had returned to Mexico and visited all 50 states. With her grant and some cash from friends, she went to Sonora to photograph her first solo exhibition, La Mujer, at the Centro Cultural de Coahuila (CCCC) in Guadalajara. She began photographing there in October of 2013.