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.