THROUGH THE LENS Q & A with photographer Marcella Echavarria

“Light and the fragility of the present moment are my two main sources of inspiration.” 

JH: Tell me about your background and your path to becoming a photographer? ME: My own life is itself a unique tapestry, with elements woven together in uncommon ways. Much of my interest in the power of the handmade, come from the way I was raised, and from things that have happened to me in my personal life. I grew up in Medellin, Colombia, with an artist mother who encouraged my siblings and I to make everything from scratch--meals, costumes, gifts, objects. The making of Holiday gifts started every year in October. It was a ritual, the finished objects were secondary in importance to the act of making them together, around the table, week after week. So I knew from personal experience that craft could be important to a healthy life, could be a healing, binding force on a family scale, but I have come to believe it might operate that way on a larger scale as well.   My work with artisans around the world comes from this experience and realization. I work mostly with what I call "the global south", what people sometimes call the "third world" or "developing countries". The parts of the world where, often, histories of colonialism and exploitation of natural resources have scarred the people and the landscape.  I am much more interested in the creativity and drive displayed by people in those regions than by artists and craftspeople who have every resource at their disposal. In broad terms, I build sustainable bridges between artisans in developing communities and developed markets who buy their products for fair prices, creating what I hope is a healthy symbiotic relationship which benefits all parties involved.      

JH: Tell me about your background and your path to becoming a photographer?

ME: My own life is itself a unique tapestry, with elements woven together in uncommon ways. Much of my interest in the power of the handmade, come from the way I was raised, and from things that have happened to me in my personal life. I grew up in Medellin, Colombia, with an artist mother who encouraged my siblings and I to make everything from scratch--meals, costumes, gifts, objects. The making of Holiday gifts started every year in October. It was a ritual, the finished objects were secondary in importance to the act of making them together, around the table, week after week. So I knew from personal experience that craft could be important to a healthy life, could be a healing, binding force on a family scale, but I have come to believe it might operate that way on a larger scale as well.   My work with artisans around the world comes from this experience and realization.

I work mostly with what I call "the global south", what people sometimes call the "third world" or "developing countries". The parts of the world where, often, histories of colonialism and exploitation of natural resources have scarred the people and the landscape.  I am much more interested in the creativity and drive displayed by people in those regions than by artists and craftspeople who have every resource at their disposal. In broad terms, I build sustainable bridges between artisans in developing communities and developed markets who buy their products for fair prices, creating what I hope is a healthy symbiotic relationship which benefits all parties involved.


 

 

 

I do not consider myself a photographer, I am more a visual storyteller. My camera is a tool to tell stories and those stories are usually of artisans, people making things, artists and off course, nature, the greatest artist of all.    

I do not consider myself a photographer, I am more a visual storyteller. My camera is a tool to tell stories and those stories are usually of artisans, people making things, artists and off course, nature, the greatest artist of all.

 

 

JH: What happened the moment you decided that this is exactly what you wanted to do with your talents, and personal and professional life? ME: I started to think about photography about 10 years ago but again I do not take it very seriously.  I enjoy using my camera as a tool to tell stories, to go deep into things I am interested in at the moment and simply enjoying life and light. JH: Does your art, your craft,  parallel your inner life? ME: I do not see a difference between my inner world and my outer life. What I do reflects what I think and feel and I hope my images express that honesty.        

JH: What happened the moment you decided that this is exactly what you wanted to do with your talents, and personal and professional life?

ME: I started to think about photography about 10 years ago but again I do not take it very seriously.  I enjoy using my camera as a tool to tell stories, to go deep into things I am interested in at the moment and simply enjoying life and light.

JH: Does your art, your craft,  parallel your inner life?

ME: I do not see a difference between my inner world and my outer life. What I do reflects what I think and feel and I hope my images express that honesty.

 


 

 

 

JH: Tell me something you see through the lens that no one else sees.   ME: I see color in a way that surprises me every time I look at my own work. I have always been a very black and neutral person in my tastes for clothing and interiors.  I actually prefer serene spaces, tone on tone, neutrals.  However, my images are exactly the opposite of that, they are full of color.

JH: Tell me something you see through the lens that no one else sees.

 

ME: I see color in a way that surprises me every time I look at my own work. I have always been a very black and neutral person in my tastes for clothing and interiors.  I actually prefer serene spaces, tone on tone, neutrals.  However, my images are exactly the opposite of that, they are full of color.

JH: What photographer or artist influences your work most deeply. ME: I am a great admirer of the work of Mary Ellen Mark. She was my first and only photography teacher. Her most important lesson was:  What is your story?  There is only the moment, the present moment and that is precisely the beauty of photography.  To think that no moment in the history of humankind can be repeated is simply magic!      

JH: What photographer or artist influences your work most deeply.

ME: I am a great admirer of the work of Mary Ellen Mark. She was my first and only photography teacher. Her most important lesson was:  What is your story?

 There is only the moment, the present moment and that is precisely the beauty of photography.  To think that no moment in the history of humankind can be repeated is simply magic!

 

 

 

JH: How has technology affected your work? ME: I am enjoying taking photos with my phone very much. I also think Instagram is the greatest invention! JH: What projects really excite you? What are you most drawn to? ME: I am working on exploring different mediums as surfaces to my images. Last year I discovered a very fine cashmere from Ladakh which feels like an embrace of warmth and lightness. I created the Embrace Art Scarves series which is a limited collection of sacred moments printed on this very fine cashmere, numbered and signed.    

JH: How has technology affected your work?

ME: I am enjoying taking photos with my phone very much. I also think Instagram is the greatest invention!

JH: What projects really excite you? What are you most drawn to?


ME: I am working on exploring different mediums as surfaces to my images. Last year I discovered a very fine cashmere from Ladakh which feels like an embrace of warmth and lightness. I created the Embrace Art Scarves series which is a limited collection of sacred moments printed on this very fine cashmere, numbered and signed.

 

 

JH: Do you have one favorite piece, or group of pieces that take place over a certain time period?   ME: My collection of textiles from my travels around the world.

JH: Do you have one favorite piece, or group of pieces that take place over a certain time period?  

ME: My collection of textiles from my travels around the world.

  JH: Favorite Project you are working on? ME: I enjoy my life’s project which is around artisans, traditional craftsmanship, authenticity, truth, honesty and respect for the past and for nature. JH: Favorite color? ME:Black  

 

JH: Favorite Project you are working on?

ME: I enjoy my life’s project which is around artisans, traditional craftsmanship, authenticity, truth, honesty and respect for the past and for nature.

JH: Favorite color?

ME:Black

 

JH: Favorite person? ME: My mother JH: What does the future hold?  Is there something you dream about but have not yet accomplished? ME: I treasure the present moment and will embrace whatever the future holds. Hopefully it is a nice surprise.   If you would like to see Marcella’s work, please contact me to schedule an appointment. jill@purethread.com                                      

JH: Favorite person?

ME: My mother

JH: What does the future hold?  Is there something you dream about but have not yet accomplished?

ME: I treasure the present moment and will embrace whatever the future holds. Hopefully it is a nice surprise.

 

If you would like to see Marcella’s work, please contact me to schedule an appointment.

jill@purethread.com