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Art & Life with Aydinaneth Ortiz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aydinaneth Ortiz.

Aydinaneth, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I would like to start off with a little story, years ago while I was watching my three-year-old nephew, I noticed that he wanted to play with a small bright, colorful toy camera in my room. Enamored by the color, he thought it was just another toy; little did he know, that 35mm point-and-shoot was my very first camera. Although it was no longer a functional camera, I just couldn’t hand it over to him. He even wanted to take it home with him, but when I told him he couldn’t, he just proceeded to cry. Being caught in between my nephews’ cries and the possibility of losing my very first camera, I broke into tears! I thought to myself, how could something so material have so much sentimental value? Needless to say, I didn’t hand it over, but this was the moment I realized how much this medium really meant to me. Photography has helped me in so many indescribable ways. It began when I was a kid simply taking family snapshots and evolved as I became a young adult trying to escape reality by submersing myself into the darkroom. Today, I use the medium to confront some of my toughest obstacles, to help heal wounds and to move forward.

I was born and raised in Long Beach, California to migrant parents who came to this country with very little and high hopes. As a freshman in junior college, I was neither motivated nor reaching my full potential, I wasn’t taking my education seriously and was doing very poorly. Once I took my first Photography class everything changed. I loved being in the class and felt like I had finally found what I was supposed to do. I was motivated to do better, get better grades and do whatever was necessary to reach my goals. Fast forward to today, I received my MFA at the California Institute of the Arts and B.A. in Art at the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently, I am an Art Educator both in High School and higher education.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Utilizing documentary, landscape, and portrait photography, my art practice focuses on intersections between urban structures, familial relationships, mental illness, drug addiction, and immigration. For years, my art has been a direct response to personal struggles and familial hardships. Most would shy away from making the private so public, but I have found that through the art-making process, I channel my negative energy into a shared conversation.

Hija de tu Madre, my newest photographic series takes a step away from familial trauma and focuses on the positive relationships between migrant mothers and their daughters using the historical context of portraiture and representation. I initiated the series with black-and-white individual portraits of my mother, sister, and I, and continued the series at the home of 13 subjects. Each portrait aims to counter negative migrant stereotypes by photographing strong women who have migrated in the United States. While the White House continues to marginalize Latin Americans, this series aspires to empower women’s resiliency despite the multitude of challenges they continue to face. Each family is considered one body of work and titled according to the mothers’ name (e.g., Hijas de Ana). To give the viewer more context, I include each mother’s birthplace and the year she emigrated to the United States.

I utilize different modes of photography as a form of study to better understand the different events that happened in my life. With my work, I hope to reach larger audiences and continue the important dialogue about migrant issues that are affecting millions of people.

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
I believe the biggest challenges artists face today is visibility and lack of resources. Institutions need to look beyond popular/established artists and support those who may not have a big following but are making good work. There needs to be more funding available to artists and art education at all levels.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Currently, my work is on display at the University Art Museum in Long Beach in the Call and Response, When We Say…

You can also see my work on my website,

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Juan Manuel Valenzuela, Daniel Andres Alcazar

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