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Claire Ruzicka’s Spellbinding Photos from Mexico

Art Review

Sep. 20, 2010
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The compelling imagery of Claire Ruzicka’s exhibition “Caras deOaxaca”portrays daily life, culture and art in the pueblos of Teotitlán del Valle and Tlacolula de Matamoros in the foothills and valleys of Mexico’s Sierra Juarez mountains. The mountains are spellbinding and Ruzicka’s documentary photographs are monumentally intimate, presenting images that are both a mystery and a personal reality. The exhibit is on display through Oct. 8 at Soup’s On, 221 N. Water St.

“Caras deOaxaca” (“Faces of Oaxaca”) unveils the influences of a mentor, Mary Ellen Mark, along with the formidable landscape, the existing ambient light of higher elevations, the indomitable spirit of her subjects and Ruzicka’s own intuitive eye. She reveals nature, landscape and humankind in a new relationship to the Earth.

The compositional beauty of these empathic, ethnographic portraits also seems to be shaped by the alluring peaks and centuries-old cultures of mestizo and Spanish traditions of the “iglesia,” purged of the conquistadors’ fiats. But the beauty is deceptive. Claire shot multiple frames of her subjects to isolate moments that movement would not let us see. Each photo gives us the opportunity to think, to make a change, to decide, and then to act upon that decision. In that “decisive moment,” she tells us the story that we may embrace and hear.

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