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Arts & Culture

Daniela Riojas, The Arts United, and exploring our scars

Photo: Courtesy ZaaZaa Productions, License: N/A

Courtesy ZaaZaa Productions

Surrender, self portrait by Daniela Riojas

Photo: , License: N/A

Detail of photograph of Nina Duran by Daniela Riojas


During the forest fire at Bastrop?

Yes! The feeling of it was amazing. She has been super helpful, and everything just unfolded into this project that we call, "Time to let go." It is all very inspirational, just learning to love your imperfections, to embrace your flaws, and hopefully promote that healing amongst other people. That's what we are hoping this project will do. She took some really great shots, and we hope there will be an exhibit somewhere down the line.

This sounds like curandera stuff to me, a very intimate healing...

Very much so. And healing as a community, that has been very much my issue — the fear to reach out to others, to show others this is what is underneath my clothes. Who does that these days? Society paints a different picture of what perfection is. It even causes issues in relationships I have been in, self-esteem issues. So I thought it was time for me to do this, and let's see whether it is accepted by the community. But so far, with the posts we have been posting on Facebook, it seems that everybody is embracing it. Which is a good thing.

It seems that when men age, their wrinkles and scars are taken as tokens of experience. But not so for women.

Daniela told me that there are other qualities that make a woman beautiful, but when she told me she wanted to photograph me I thought, "I don't do that!" But when I looked at these pictures I thought there is some sort of beauty in here. I'm not sure if I fully see it yet, because it is hard to. But when I saw the first photograph I was just blown away. You can see that emotional pain that I feel, that I tie with it. A lot of these pictures are very lifeless, and the reason for that is that is how it makes me feel. But we thought it would be good to have an exhibit at her studio, and hopefully down the line she could photograph other women's scars, or a missing limb perhaps. Daniela has that quality in her that makes her feel for people. I know that eventually I will have to accept it — there are no surgeries or creams to change it. So what do you do when you can't change your situation? I can change my attitude towards it, so that is what I am trying to do. This is my body, and that is that. Many of these scars came from my two beautiful boys, but if I didn't have these, I wouldn't have them. But it is a constant journey. •

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