William Rafael | Shoemaker
Carlos Picado, Bryan Guerrero & Nestor Gonzalez
| Carpet washers
Concepción Gonzalez | Florist
Rubén Morales | Zipper machine operator
In the age of an acutely confrontational style in Washington, D.C., and the rising threat of racially oriented federal policies, I’ve come to see a glaring discrepancy in President Trump’s rhetoric that hits home for me, literally, figuratively – and glaringly so – as a native Angeleno.
Most prominently realized through the administration’s immigration policies, President Trump has revealed, time and again, an unapologetic myopia concerning his personal views on race, all but inviting critics to interpret his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” as a codified reset of what he really appears to want, which is to “Make America White Again.”
Walking and driving every day in Los Angeles, I look around and see an economically thriving microcosm of multi-racial immigrant America. At the same time, Trump, generous with his praise of working class Americans, is quick to denigrate immigrants who are also of the working class, but happen to be, by and large, non-whites.
This project is a photographic response to that dichotomy. Immigrants thrive in this country with a variety of skills, but often, given their backstories of marginalization and the demands of survival in a modern society, they gravitate towards the “small trades” – many of them taking on the same jobs that Eugène Atget, August Sander, and Irving Penn documented in their seminal bodies of work.
Through diligence, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit these new Americans seek a chance to better their lives and the lives of their children through the universally acknowledged mandate of rolling up their sleeves and going to work. In homage to Atget’s Parisian portraits, Sander’s “People of the 20th Century” and Penn’s daylight studio work, I felt it necessary to provide non-anonymous documentation of some of the workers who’s grace and grit are on display every day in Los Angeles.
Through their labor and economic contribution, the small trades men and women, who have generously agreed to be my subjects here, are earning their paths forward. None are asking for a free ride.
Gevorg Tevanyan | Shoemaker
Young Ae Jung | Tailor
Cesar Sentillan Useda | Framer
Alexander Choi | Outdoor equipment repairman
Evangelina Mendez | Zipper machine operator
Mario Rosales | Baker
Miguel Pu Ixcotoyac | Outdoor equipment repairman
Jesus Sera | Dishwasher
Everardo Avelar | Caner
Erick Rabanales | Vacuum repairman
Thomas Parsighian | Shoemaker
Alejandro García | Baker
Oscar Dominguez | Locksmith
Antonio Murillo | Zipper painter
Pascual Olmos | Cane weaver
Veronica Mateo & Ermelinda Rodriguez | Zipper cutters