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Meet William Camargo

Today we’d like to introduce you to William Camargo.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I grew up in Anaheim a city that has seen a lot of oppression that rarely gets told. I remember watching the Disneyland fireworks from my 2nd-floor apartment, at that young age I thought that the world of Disneyland was so far away, later on, to realize that I grew up 3-4 miles from the “Happiest Place on Earth.” That was a different world from the gang neighborhood I grew up in the late ’90s and early ’00s. From the constant talks about cousins getting caught up in gang activity to the talks about ICE taking a family friend. That was a more common story about the Anaheim barrios than what I would usually get asked about growing up in the city that houses Disneyland.

Having a long stint in Chicago that would be a common question, how often would I go to Disneyland. I had to become a sort of voice for working-class brown folks, which I know my view and my reality wasn’t the same story, but I did know that brown voices were not being centered in a city that turned into a majority Latinx city. Thus the 2012 riots were due to the constant suppression and were the breaking point to the Latinx population in Anaheim. By then I myself was battling with the ideas that come out in my artwork. I came around with centralizing notions of immigration, archives, and gentrification in my work and how the story of Anaheim is like many other cities.

Please tell us about your art.
I consider myself a photo-based artist using photo as a primary way to express and wrestle with ideas of displacement, histories, and immigration. For the past six months, my work has led me to do more research about untold narratives of peoples, that connect to present times. I do it at times to fill a timeline of a city that leaves certain parts of the cities histories out, possibly to fit the description of what Disneyland motto says. Parts of the history I highlight are from the injustices of labor workers in the orange groves, segregation in public pools, to the contrasting narratives of the cities neighborhoods. Using my privilege as a student and being in academia these narratives are important to me for the public that views my work to know.

I not only use photography to tell these untold or not centralized narratives, but I also use performance and screen printing to talk about these issues as well.

We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
I think connecting to an artist that have the same ambitions as you are important, building up small collectives that meet possibly every two weeks, to just destress from institutions is key. Being in an MFA program can be stressful, and finding folks to just talk is important. Finding mentors who have gone through what you have, and being able to have outings with friends outside of school and workplaces. I find connections when I go to shows where my friends are exhibiting, thats where I have found great friends.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
People can see my work on my website, on Instagram @billythecamera and on the page @latinx_diaspora_archives which is an attempt at collecting family photos of the Latinx Diaspora. People can also support my work by supporting initiatives that I will be putting forward as Commissioner of Heritage and Culture in the city of Anaheim. And lastly, by purchasing works of black, POC and queer artist.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
First two archived images: Anaheim Heritage Center

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