Alejandra is a photographer and teacher assistant from Mexico currently living and working in New York where she moved a year ago to study at the New York Film Academy.
"I think about my work as “genuine”. It is very easy to let yourself get caught by the trends, to become a “people-pleaser”, but staying true to yourself takes a lot of effort".
What do you consider your nationality to be?
Can you tell us your story as a Foreigner?
I came to New York a year ago for a master in photography and I found myself loving my New York life. I got a job and made a lot of friends; I think I’ve been very lucky. I’ve never experienced racism towards me, and living in the US as a Mexican you are very likely to. I have had a lot of very different and interesting conversations and experiences that made me grow up.
Why did you choose New York?
Because I think this city is one of the most relevant places in my field.
What made you want to stay?
I found an amazing community at the New York Film Academy, full of foreigners and opportunities. I also got a job as a teacher assistant at the same school and I get paid much more than I would have if I stayed in Mexico. I think I’m in the right place to make contacts, to learn and to make things happen.
What do you enjoy about living abroad?
The feeling of a fresh start was what I needed. And not just any fresh start, here I’ve enjoyed meeting people from all around the world and I had access to people, exhibitions and shows that I could not even dream of.
I also I have been able to look at everything with new eyes. Different backgrounds make different eye glasses to see the world and that gave me a new perspective which I’ve been able to share with a lot of people, foreigners and not.
Any personal challenge in adapting to the local culture?
I became much more open and responsible. I feel out of my comfort zone 24/7 which forces me to growth whether I want it or not.
Do you think your experience as photographer would have been the same if you stayed in your country of origin?
I don’t think so. I’ve learnt a lot from direct sources to which I wouldn’t have had access in Mexico.
How do your origins inspire your work?
I don’t think my origins specifically inspire my work, but surely the inner and outside experiences that I’ve had in my life are my inspiration.
What about the local culture?
All over the place!
How is your work usually received by the local people?
Better than I expected. People are hungry for newness and I think I have something new to give them. It is extremely hard though, there is a huge amount of competition and thousands of talented people that want to make it in this field.
What message would you like to share with Americans and other foreigners who don't know your work yet?
I think that in the times we live in, with the insane amount of visual information, it’s very easy to like everything and nothing at the same time.
To take value and importance away from every image you see, not taking the time and mindfulness to appreciate each one of them. I also think a lot of work [in photography] is lacking depth and “realness”. If there is something I can give with my work, it’s that. I think about my work as “genuine”. It is very easy to let yourself get caught by the trends, to become a “people-pleaser”, but staying true to yourself takes a lot of effort.
I don't know if my words complement my photographs or my photographs complement my words, but what I know is that sharing my inner world through these things is what I want to do in life.
Anything you would like them to know about your country of origin?
I’ve heard many ill-informed opinions about Mexico, as well as many other countries. There’s much more than guacamole and enchiladas to Mexico. It is an extremely beautiful place with kind and beautiful people. It has an amazing history and culture. It is going through a rough patch right now, but that doesn’t take away the qualities of the people and the country.
What your plans for the future?
I’m planning to stay in New York for at least another year and then maybe move to Spain or somewhere in Europe. I really miss Mexico, but from a professional standpoint I will have more opportunities elsewhere.
Where is home?
It’s hard to answer that. I think that the place I come from in Mexico, with my parents, will always be home. But I try to make little homes wherever I live.
What words/ideas do you associate with 'Foreigner'?
For some reason the word foreigner sounds negative to me. Nevertheless if I think about it I’m able to associate it with a lot of positive things. Interesting people, new points of view, hard working, brave, challenge, solitude, openness and fear.