BACKGROUND OF THIS PHOTO SERIES
From attending St. Edward’s University, my desire to learn about other cultures has grown so much. St. Ed’s is one of those universities that puts a heavy emphasis on study abroad and being a welcoming environment for students all around the world. I met people from Pakistan, South Korea, Columbia, etc, etc. After meeting so many people from different backgrounds, I think it’s critical to learn about other cultures in order to broaden one’s viewpoints and perspectives in order to see the entire picture. Since I’ve graduated, I’ve still wanted to learn about the world around me. This is why I went about creating a collaborative project with models, photographers, and hair and make-up artists in the Austin area. The concept was to gather a group of women of varying ethnicities and cultural backgrounds in order for them to portray warriors from their home countries. I wanted the girls to tap into their inner strength but to also connect with their heritage. I reached out on Facebook in an Model and Photographer group to see who would be interested in working together. I had a huge response of people wanting to work on this project! Looking at individual portfolios and asked about cultures and heritage, I chose who I wanted to work with. One of the most important parts of this project is that I wanted to capture a wide range of cultures, so I made sure I didn’t have too many people of the same heritage. In the end, I created two teams that shot on two different dates in two different locations. I loved getting to meet all these creatives and work with them! It was so much fun to see how other photographers worked; we all ended up with completely different work which was the best part!
Indonesian culture is a blend of multiple countries that colonized the island; from food to clothing, Indonesia is similar to America as being a melting pot. Portrayed by Marcia Rondonuwu, the Indonesian Warrior was strong and represented female empowerment and rebellion. Originally, Marcia was going to wear a Kebaya which is what imprisoned Indonesian women wore as a middle finger to Japanese occupation. A Kebaya represents the emancipation of Indonesian women. However, when Marcia and I talked about it, we both agreed that her Kebaya is too formal and doesn’t match the aesthetic of the shoot. Instead, Marcia wore a dress that belongs to her mother called a batik.
Not only was the dress symbolic, Marcia also brought a fan to demonstrate fan dancing which is prominent among the Indonesian islands and provinces. Even though fan dancing is a huge component in Indonesian culture, the concept and purpose of fan dancing differ between the provinces. According to Marcia:
“While the “Serumpun Fan Dance” from South Sumatra portrays joy and friendship, a fan dance from a different region is instead repressive and restraining.
The “Makassar Kipas Dance” from South Sulawesi showcases very delicate movement to characterize women who “behave and obey” their husbands. In fact, these dancers are not allowed to open their eyes wide, and legs/feet should not be lifted too high, limiting leg movement to make this hours-long dance very difficult.”
Even though the dances celebrated their culture, women also performed the dance as an act of rebellion. They rebelled by not performing the dance as gracefully or beautifully as it usually is performed.
Co-Photographer Team #1: Winter Kane
Co-Photographer Team #1: Maddie B.
MUA Team #1 and Team #2: Estelle Thomas and Delaney Rubenstein
Model Team #1 - Indonesian Warrior: Macia Rondonuwu
Model Team #1 - Mother Warrior: Anastacia Sterling
Model Team #1 - Scottish Warrior: Abbie Nevins
Co-Photographer Team #2: Gabe Vasquez
Co-Photographer Team #3: Louie Ayuma
Model Team #2 - Thai and Columbian Warrior: Cathy Garcia
Model Team #2 - Athena: Danielle Poe
Model Team #2 - Irish Warrior: London Beal
Model Team #2 - Filipino Warrior: Vicky Mescher
Costume Designer for Athena, Filipino Warrior, and Thai and Columbian Warrior: Courtney King of Bewitching Dames