My name is Abigail Lopez and I am a 26-year old Mexican-American woman, currently walking the streets of Harlem, NY with a camera in one hand and a bag of questions about life in the other. I moved to New York City in late 2014 to pursue my masters’ degree at Columbia University and had no idea what life had in store for me.
I was born and raised in Compton, California and was somewhat oblivious to the infamous reputation my city held with the larger world. During my junior year in high school, I was introduced to darkroom photography and was forever astonished with the process. As I first witnessed black shadows form in my white piece of paper while submerged in the developer, I thought to myself – I too could create something in this world. Later in my life I would hear a pastor describe humans as co-creators of our lives with God – which immediately brought photography back into my life.
Prior to developing my first photograph, no one had expressed to me that we all have the ability to be great, to be somebody, to be a creator. I became aware of the uniqueness of my being. No other person in all humanity had ever held my camera at that exact time and taken that exact photograph. And no one ever could because life continues.
When I left home and moved to Santa Cruz where I received my bachelors’ degree, I initially decided to study photography. However, after sitting through numerous art critiques in my classes, I realized that I could not only study photography. I became cognizant of the importance of my family and educational background, which developed into a passion for societal issues and education. Soon I found myself studying sociology and education and began incorporating all the new theories I was learning into my art. Theories and terms like institutional barriers, and systematic oppression – terms that I never knew but described all too familiar experiences. My photography and my educational journey became one. And although I will go into this more in depth in a later post, just understand that to disconnect the two became impossible for me.
Now as I find myself living in this new city, life has once again pulled me in a different direction. Upon arriving I was immediately surrounded by artist and believers. What I mean by believers are those who lead their lives with God in the forefront and are always full of thankfulness of His grace in their lives. Soon, my spiritual journey led me to find my partner in life, Mark, and strengthened my spirit and build courage.
This is how today I find myself typing these words on my laptop keyboard. I was always too afraid and shy to show my photographs, thinking they were never good enough. I always cringed when people asked me to take their photos, because of fear they would not like them. But thanks to Mark, supportive individuals around me, and God, I have found the courage to put myself out there and have courage in my work.
I am not like other photographers in the same way that there are no two authors alike. My hope is that my photographs carry a glimpse of how I view life and capture a moment in history and emotion. I invite you all to join me in my journey as I navigate my life as an artist, educator, believer and wife.