Alejandro Lugo's photographs remind me of my Latina roots.
Looking at Mexican American Gothic: Twenty-first Century Pioneers from the series Seen from the Back/De Espaldas, I think about my parents when they were younger than I am now. In the couple, I can see them ecstatic that they were safely in Arizona. They were a happy, young couple stopping at nothing to bring their culture and start a new life.
Alejandro Lugo’s photo takes place in Chandler, Arizona. It pictures a Mexican couple dressed in a serape and a pueblo dress dancing in front of a bronze monument that commemorates the city’s U.S. settlers.
When my parents immigrated to the United States at the age of seventeen, they stayed a while in Arizona, where the photograph takes place. There, they had their first meal in days, better yet their first meal in the United States: an In and Out Burger with a side of fries and a large iced Coca Cola.
Dressed in the traditional clothing that they wear, the couple in Alejandro’s photograph represents the preservation of their culture, even in a different country. Of which my parents make sure to never lose sight of by dressing my sister and me in traditional Mexican clothing since childhood.
Dancing shows how happy they are to have reached their goal and further develops how they created a home there.
Though my parents did not end up settling in Arizona, they did settle in the U.S. soil of Illinois.
Now, I continue to embrace the culture they brought from Mexico on campus by studying our Native tongue and volunteering as a Spanish translator.
The bronze monument in this photograph is similar to that of the Statue of Liberty, welcoming newcomers and dancing alongside those that are creating better lives for themselves and their family in the U.S.
Samantha Solis is a sophomore in the Gies College of Business studying Strategy, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship with a Spanish minor. Samantha’s parents, Jesus Solis and Damaris Tinoco-Solis can be seen pictured side by side.