2018 Portfolio Prize Runner Up: Eduardo Rivera
Eduardo L Rivera, A Seat At The Table, 2016; from the series Over Dry Lands
In 2009, Eduardo L Rivera began photographing his mother, recently evicted and in declining health. This ongoing body of work brought him back to his childhood home in Phoenix, to the borderlands where the chafing and blending of Mexican and American cultures define the landscape. The intense, direct sun, whether illuminating his mother as she talks on the phone holding a box of mangos or casting her shadow against a pistachio-green stucco wall and plaster planter, speaks to the geography of their home as much as the photos of cacti and other subtle Southwestern details.
Rivera describes the project as being “influenced by the pleasures and terrors of home life in the American Southwest.” The reference is a pointed one; in 1991, the Museum of Modern Arts launched a landmark exhibition, the Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort. In the words of curator Peter Galassi, the assembled work explored “the settings, rituals, and moods of domestic experience.” The show consciously eschewed traditional, Farm Security Administration–style social documentary of poverty and the pointedly “downtrodden” in favor of a more personal expression of the contemporary domestic space, unapologetically American—albeit mostly white—and while revealing some signs of stress and wear, leaning equally unapologetically toward the comfortably well-off. Galassi, in the exhibition catalogue’s essay, asked the reader to imagine “what photographs we might still need.” Rivera’s compelling and personal photographs of his home and of his mother, who emigrated from Chihuahua, Mexico, in the 1960s, are among those that we need, especially right now.
Eduardo L Rivera is an artist whose work functions at the intersection of photography and personal narratives. He has exhibited throughout the United States, including the Houston Center for Photography; the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University; the Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, Colorado; the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center; and the Tucson Museum of Art. Additionally, his work has been featured in various publications, such as Hyperallergic, the Financial Times weekend magazine, and Aint–Bad Magazine, and he has been awarded artist-in-residence positions in Brazil and India. Most recently, he was named a Mass Cultural Council fellow in photography for 2017. Rivera holds a BFA in photography from Arizona State University and an MFA in photography from the Massachusetts College of Art. He currently lives and works between Boston and Phoenix.