Quetzal Maucci: 'Borders are a social construct'
Latino American photographer Quetzal Maucci spoke with AL DÍA News about her childhood in San Francisco, CA, growing up the daughter of two Latin American immigrant mothers, as well as how she became interested in documenting the lives of the children of immigrants in the United States. Her series "Children of Immigrants" was published in The New York Times.
Talking about the challenges and struggles of being an immigrant in the U.S. has become a hot topic under the Trump administration, but what happens regarding the children of immigrants? What challenges and dilemmas do they face in their daily lives?
This issue has become a matter of concern for Latino American documentary photographer Quetzal Maucci, one of the 20 million American-born children of immigrants who are now adults living in the United States today. Maucci is the author of “Children of Immigrants,” a series of portraits of young immigrants in the U.S., published in The New York Times a year ago. She currently lives in London, working as a photographer and editor for Comic Relief, a non-profit humanitarian organization.
Born and raised in San Francisco, CA, Maucci herself is a child of two Latin American mothers, one from Peru, and one from Argentina, who separated when she was very little.
“They are both very strong, passionate women,” she recalled in a thorough email interview with AL DÍA NEWS from her home in London. One of them was a dancer and visual artist, the other was a poet, interested in music and photography. “Throughout my childhood, I lived all over San Francisco and the bay area, moving around from house to house as money was tight,” she said.
Although San Francisco is considered very gay-friendly, she still felt uncomfortable saying that she had two mothers during the '90s. “Something changed in me when I graduated from middle school and I decided that if anyone had a problem with me having two mothers that I would try to discuss their views, but I knew that I didn’t have to be friends with anyone who was discriminatory,” she said.
From her mothers, she learned Spanish - the language they spoke at home - and learned to be someone “continuously challenging her own, to follow my heart, and cultivate my mind. I am still learning about myself and my roots every day,” she said.
After graduating from High School, Quetzal moved to New York, where she earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts, studying photography and imaging at New York University (NYU). It was then when she started to think about the idea of identity, of who she was. A child of Latin American immigrants? An American? A Latino?
“Borders are a social construct, owning land is a capitalistic illusion and the idea of building walls between countries is absurd and horrifying on many different levels,” she said. “What I know about myself is that my roots run deeply into various cultures and lands. My mothers proudly taught me about their South American cultures and saved their money to show me their homes."
She grew up eating an array of South American foods: "seco, estofado, lomo saltado, caucau de pollo, milanesa, empanadas, dulce de leche and asados…” she added, recalling her trips to Uruguay, Argentina and the Andes when she was younger.