a hard earned lesson

A few years ago I was going to do a “mixed blood” portrait project in collaboration with a good friend. We even built a website and bought the domain name “Mixedblood.org.” Our idea was to focus on images and narratives about mixed blood individuals. Then I traveled to Mexico for a couple of weeks and the experience of being immersed in a society where everyone had mixed blood was exhilarating — but also made me question the logic of the whole enterprise. I also felt that something else was missing from our idea, & just couldn’t make it work conceptually in my head. Then Life happened and we never did get that project off the ground. So seeing this article about the work of CYJO is a bit bittersweet. Now I realize in a big “Aha!” moment that it was the uniqueness of mixed “race”(whatever that means) FAMILIES such as the one from which I came, that allow and require the children to forge their own sense of identity from diverse cultural influences. Being of mixed race is a phenomenon that transcends the individual and can only be shown in the context of a family. Cyjo figures that out and made the project work. I can draw two lessons from this realization: 1. If you have a project idea, GET IT DONE before someone else beats you to it. (Not the first time I’ve “learned” this lesson the hard way!) and 2. Don’t get too stuck on an initial idea of how to execute a concept- think all the way around it to to see if there’s a better way to approach the problem. Both my partner and I were pretty alienated from our own families at the time and no doubt we wore blinders to the importance of family in the story we were trying to tell. A little less focus on our own situations and more openness to that of others would have let us see what now seems an obvious solution to the problem.

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