Life, Art & Culture A Mexican American Artist's Journey
Photo Courtesy: Katherine Dhera Swanger / Enrique Rodriguez

Life, Art & Culture: A Mexican American Artist’s Journey

By: Beena Yusuf

In the heart of Houston, Texas, a vibrant narrative unfolds, one that traverses borders, disciplines, and generations. Born in 1992 into a family with roots deeply planted in Mexico City’s rich cultural soil, this story charts the course of an individual who has woven a tapestry of creative endeavors through the lens of experience and heritage. It is the tale of someone who has seamlessly blended the worlds of fine arts, photography, and traditional family crafts to create a unique brand that resonates with authenticity and passion. Through Enrique Rodriguez, this journey is shared with the world – a testament to life captured in its myriad forms.

After graduating from Chavez High School, an exploration into Liberal Arts at Houston Community College SE campus marked the beginning of an academic odyssey that would later transition to a focus on Studio/Fine Arts in Painting and Creative Writing at the prestigious School of Museum of Fine Arts & Tufts University Boston in 2013. This period was instrumental in shaping a creative vision that finds expression not just on canvas but through the evocative medium of photography.

The year 2016 heralded a pivotal turn with an ambassadorial role at Leica Camera USA in their Boston Store and Gallery location. Herein lay the crucible that ignited a fervent passion for photography – inspired by the Magnum photographers’ unparalleled ability to distill stories into their purest essence. This realization dawned; like deliberate strokes on a canvas, each photograph serves a distinct purpose. It was not merely about capturing moments but narrating tales through visual imprints.

Photography thus became more than an occupation; it evolved into a visual diary chronicling both familial bonds and encounters with those yet known. The tragic loss of Enrique’s dear father, Gustavo Beltran Rodriguez in 2018 further deepened this commitment. In his honor, “Cuando Llora El Cielo” / “When Heaven Weeps” emerged as a poignant photo project capturing the collective mourning process alongside moments depicting strength and unity. It underscored how Mexican American culture embraces death not as an end but as part celebration of life – reflected anew in celebrating births within the family.

Eight years spent in Boston culminated in a heartfelt return to Houston by late 2021, seeking proximity to familial warmth. However, the interlude included months spent working remotely from Mexico City during 2022 – an opportunity for reunion with extended family members and capturing everyday magic from el Zocalo’s vibrancy to Xoxhimilco’s serene floating gardens.

From working in graphics and marketing at the East End Chamber of Commerce to serving as an art advisor at the Art of the World Gallery, these roles represented chapters where community involvement and contemporary artistry intersected. Yet, free moments find expression through freelance photography endeavors capturing candid moments ranging from familial gatherings to reportage and even live music events orchestrated by Wonky Power Records – extending this artistic legacy within family bounds.

Moreover, occasionally engaging in barbering harks back to learned familial skills dating back to youthful days under guidance from maternal lineage including patriarchal grandfather figureheads akin to Acapulco barber shops scattered across Houston – encapsulating a tradition perpetuated today by Enrique’s brother, Gustavo Rodriguez, through his venture “Cut n Pride”.

This journey embodies more than just personal growth or career milestones; it signifies resilience amidst adversity, celebration amid loss, and unwavering devotion towards preserving moments through artistry whether via brushstrokes or shutter clicks – all while honoring ancestral legacies intertwined within these pursuits.

The essence encapsulating this narrative could be distilled into: “Life isn’t merely observed; it is deeply felt, celebrated, mourned, and immortalized through our chosen mediums.” This ethos permeates every image shared via @somos__ajenos – inviting audiences into intimate realms where every snapshot tells its own story.

In stitching together these varied chapters lies not only personal fulfillment but also inspiration drawn from each phase’s unique challenges and triumphs—constituting an overarching testament to living passionately irrespective of medium or discipline pursued. It beckons viewers alike—to explore beyond mere surface-level impressions towards embracing life’s intricate textures captured amidst fleeting instants.

Thus unfolds this multifaceted saga—bridging past with present through artful narrations awaiting discovery beneath each frame’s surface—a narrative continually unfolding much like life itself: unpredictable yet beautiful in its complexity.

Published by: Holy Minoza

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