Kelsey-Jicarilla Apache Heritage.jpg

Artist Statements

American Mosaic

My American Mosaic series celebrates America’s rich multicultural heritage. The ‘melting pot’ metaphor is being replaced by new metaphors like ‘mosaic’ which suggest an integration that blends yet preserves each culture’s unique qualities rather than promoting one homogenous culture.

The photographs were taken at cultural festivals in the United States, where heritage and traditions are taught, celebrated and remembered. I have attended countless multicultural celebrations to find the subjects in this series, all of whom are proudly wearing their own ethnic or traditional dress. I believe America is a young country that can benefit from the beauty and wisdom of myriad cultures and ancient traditions as we try to build a pluralistic society.

I started my project several years ago while researching my family’s lineage to better understand my American identity. However, with intolerance on the rise globally, I feel my series has taken on greater meaning in the current social and political climate. My goals are to capture the beauty of diverse cultures and to inspire cross-cultural understanding. I am also striving to preserve the past by documenting traditional customs passed down through many generations.

I have tried to capture both a historical and contemporary portrait of American identity with the hope that it creates a deeper understanding of who we are as a nation and reminds us that beyond cultural differences, there is also a shared humanity.

Eclectic Nation

My Eclectic Nation series documents myriad cultural traditions in an increasingly diverse United States of America. The series celebrates the multicultural identity of this nation and aims to honor its eclectic mix of people and their heritage. The images also explore the complex question “What is American culture?”

I have photographed countless multicultural celebrations and festivals in the US to capture the rich blend of dance, dress, and traditions from countries around the world. Most cultural festivals bring together various ethnic groups to foster a spirit of camaraderie and to promote enjoyment and of culture and heritage. Through images that depict traditional customs and their more Americanized incarnations, my photos document how Americans experience culture and commemorate their past.

Culture is a prism through which we our view both ourselves and the world. In an age of increasing intolerance, my series tries to promote cross-cultural understanding and respect for a multicultural society. Dignity for all continues to be a defining issue of our time.

When West Meets East

My When West Meets East series documents my travels to India to meet my husband’s family and to learn more about his culture. My first visit to this wondrous country was to attend our wedding reception in Kolkata. We returned seven years later with our daughter Sophie and introduced her to many ancient Indian traditions and customs. I photographed both private moments with family as well as public interactions with those I encountered in my travels. With over a billion people, India is the second most populous country in the world. My images reflect the frenetic pace of urban life in India as well as much-needed retreats to more tranquil environments. As the world’s largest democracy and with its rising economic influence, India has become an influential regional and global power. However, it continues to struggle with huge economic and environmental issues as it attempts to modernize. My images observe the myriad dichotomies - opulence and poverty, ancient and modern, spiritualism and consumerism - that exist side by side in this mystical country.

My photos capture a sense of wonder and intrigue of the exotic and unfamiliar, but also document universal themes of love, joy, sadness, and struggle. My goals for the project were to broaden my own understanding of my husband’s culture and therefore of him. Ultimately this is a story about love, acceptance, and the enriching experience of marrying into an Indian family.

Days Gone By

My Days Gone By series travels back in time to the early days in American history. From the perseverance and courage of pioneers to the legends and misdeeds of cowboys and Indians, these images explore the old anew as a way to remember, honor, and learn from our nation's past.

In pursuit of liberty, and driven in varying degrees by enterprise, desperation, and Manifest Destiny, the early settlers demonstrated immense grit and determination. These traits are particularly vivid in the West, even today. Yet for every storied myth there is an evocation of hidden tragedy; one cannot view one without sensing the other. Such is America's history and legacy- a reminder of who we are as a nation, where we have come from, and where we may yet go.

Sublime Mysteries

My Sublime Mysteries series explores spirituality and mysticism across different cultures. The images examine how individuals attempt to unravel the mysteries of life by connecting with a higher consciousness.

The reportage images focus on religious rituals and idols, spiritual customs, and mystical places. The collage images, created from my photographs, are inspired by legends and mythologies about creation, life, and the afterlife. In all the images, I attempt to capture some of the mystery, wonder, and awe of spirituality.