Zona Imaginaria

My desire to touch our collective humanity with photography pulls me to people and places around the world. I explore and challenge myself throughout my process of traveling and making photos. From women in prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel to women imprisoned for life in La Paz, Bolivia at Zona Imaginaria.

In a tiny neighborhood called Victoria, outside of Buenos Aires, is a small house called Zona Imaginaria, where art is taught to local children. Lucrecia Urbano has two passions; art and helping people. She had set up this home for local and international artists to live and work together. Her idea originally was to primarily teach printmaking for adults; her area of expertise. As Augustina Nunez painted the front of the house, kids in the street saw the painting and came to show their drawings. They asked if there was a class for children and she could not say no. “How can you say no? I started with a small group. The parents don’t have money, the kids are always hungry.” One family who only eats one meal a day, had a home with no bathroom, and only a dirt floor. Last year Lucrecia built that family a home with a real wooden floor.

At Zona Imaginaria, they are given a tool to believe in themselves. Watching the children express themselves is a gift they gave me. They are involved and curious. I see their moods vary from serious to playful in the course of an afternoon class. The children feel important because they are taught and encouraged that they have a talent. When they see what they create, they believe in their own magic. The seed of hope is planted to believe in themselves. There is one little girl that reminded me of myself as a little girl. She’s pensive, inquisitive and keeps to herself. Eventually, when she felt safe, I saw her smile which made my entire journey worthwhile.

Lucrecia Urbano says “For me, it’s really like believing in the only thing I know how to do which is art and helping people. I am an artist and a mother so I put these two together. Art saved my life. It’s a way to live. It’s something you have for all your life. For the kids, you can put a seed or hope to believe in themselves. For example, look you made this. This is you, you are important. To show a child that she has a talent is important. For me, the kids are important in that when they see what they create, they believe in their own magic. They are important to real life because real life has kids, old people, young, old, dogs, not only artists that are clever.

“El Arte es la motivacion principal de mi vida. Cada uno decide lo que es mas importante en el curso de sus vidas, para algunos es el dinero, o la inteligencia. Para mi, es el arte: el arte es el lente con el que miro el mundo, es lo que le da sentido a las cosas.”

“Art is the guiding force of my life. Everyone decides what is most important in their lives. For some it is money or intelligence. For myself, with art, it’s a glass to see the world. For me that makes sense.”