Four generations

Annie Appel: The Mexico Journeys – Carmelita

July 24 – August 21, 2021

I was born and raised in twin cities divided by a river. The westernmost tip of Texas, El Paso (the pass) marks the point where the United States shares a border with Juarez, Mexico. As a child, my father explained that people lived in the cardboard-roofed shacks across the river. Speeding past on the highway by day, I studied the landscape, hoping to actually see someone. At night, without electricity, the darkness on their side of the river was complete. It was as if I were staring into the empty horizon over open seas, as if only I knew that by day there existed an entire city so different from my own.

Years later, while traveling in Baja, Mexico, I encountered a woman named María. Eight months pregnant, she was walking up the steep, dirt road in the heat of summer, her two young daughters trudging along beside her. I offered water and pencils for the large pad of paper they’d found. In return, they invited me to join them on their walk to bring her husband his lunch. Jaime was digging clay out of the hillside and turning it into rows of perfectly shaped bricks. Their village, like the one I’d watched while growing up, was instantaneous as familiar as it was foreign.

It was 1994, a time when the news was filled with unending reports of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, and when the United States was debating the merits of rescuing Kuwait from what appeared to be a brutal invasion by Iraq. It was a time when, armed with my cameras and my new diploma in photography, I was drawing down my first paycheck as a photo teacher at a home for abused children. Inspired by Jaime, a self-taught man a few years younger than I, skillfully turning clay into bricks to sustain five kids and a wife, living in a two-room, adobe house he’d built completely with his own hands, I believed they had a more immediate, direct kind of life than mine. Then and there, I made a promise to myself to document their world in images and journal entries for a decade – now, over two decades.

Annie Appel

Annie Appel: The Mexico Journeys – Carmelita is a photo essay chronicling the life of one Mexican family’s daughter, first as a child and later as a young adult with her own son. The photographs were taken by Annie Appel during visits with the family from 1995 to 2017. They are presented together for the first time in this exhibition.


Easy Reader, South of the border with Annie Appel, by Bondo Wyspolski, July 21, 2021    LINK

Diversions LA, Take a Very Special Travel with Annie Appel: The Mexico Journeys – Carmelita, by Genie Davis, July 15, 2021   LINK

Mexico Journeys 1: Carmelita held by her mother, María, 1995; Carmelita with her son, Diego, 2017

Mexico Journeys 2: Carmelita, 1997; Carmelita, 2008

Mexico Journeys 3: Carmelita, 2002; Carmelita, 2017

Mexico Journeys 4: Carmelita with her sister, Angelica, 1999; Carmelita, 2008

Mexico Journeys 5: Carmelita, 2000; Carmelita with her son, Diego, 2017

Mexico Journeys 6: Carmelita, 2002; Carmelita, 2008

Mexico Journeys 7: Carmelita, 2008; Carmelita, 2000

Mexico Journeys 8: Carmelita in the water, 1999; Carmelita with her son, Diego, 2017

Mexico Journeys 9: Carmelita with her father, Jaime, 1996; Carmelita with her son, Diego, 2017

Young Carmelita, Viviana, and Maria

Carmelita, Viviana, and Maria

Carmelita at her first job, 2008

This exhibition is made possible, in part, by generous support from –