Cultural heritage and roots, female grace and power: the colorful world of the Andean photographer

“My origins, my culture and my relationship with my mother shape the background of both my artistic and human identity. They are all really important factors. I consider myself an Andean and tropical woman, because I came to Miami from Peru. These are two worlds that share so many colors. The Andean world and its people, however, have suffered and continue to suffer discrimination and forms of racism. That is why I want to change the relationship with the uniqueness of this culture through my work. I want to show the diversity and values of these people, I want them to stop being ashamed of their roots.”

If you want to immerse yourself in a cascade of colors and cultural echoes, check out the shots of Celia D. Luna. In the photographic production of this Andean artist and now Florida adoptee, ancient traditions, modern folklore and contemporary revolutions merge. Because roots cannot be forgotten. Because roots must be elevated, becoming a tool for social affirmation and, especially in Celia’s case, female empowerment.

“I only knew photography concretely in college, at first it was just a passion. I loved and love Tim Walker, because he can combine fashion with storytelling, all his shoots tell something. When a friend of mine asked me to take some portraits, I realized that photography could become so much more in my life. Over time, this artistic medium turned into an organic process of self exploration and discovery. My aesthetic gravitates around colors and the desire to portray atypical subjects that can allow me to tell real stories, mostly related to my homeland. I feel responsibilities because I want to portray and show Andean culture and the role women play within it. I do things from the heart and even the commercial works follow this philosophy: they are almost always related to the sublimation of female power and grace. I love the fact that my photography has social meaning and value.”

In the colorful gallery of Celia D. Luna the sports element plays a key role in the understanding and dissemination of female power. It is the ideal platform to collect testimonies of modern andinity and its atypical female protagonists, driven by the desire to uplift their condition and, at the same time, to influence future generations. Cultural heritage needs to be embraced and shared, Celia’s images communicate, as in the magnum opus ‘Cholitas Bravas,’ dedicated to courageous Andean skaters, climbers, and wrestlers.

“Sports has enriched me and my relationship with the Andes. Sports stories have the ability to touch so many people and inspire them. I am talking, for example, about the Bolivian women’s collective Imilla Skate, which is bringing so many girls closer to the ‘chola’ culture, its customs and traditions, and to the board as a way of independence. I’m talking about the climbers who experience the Andes as a meeting point with their mothers, their lives and knowledge. I am talking about the girls who, since the early 2000s, have been practicing ‘lucha libre’ to protect themselves from physical abuse: pioneers who started a tradition that continues to this day in Bolivia. Femininity is power, grace and kindness, and sports highlight these characteristics of ours”

The next step in this celebration of cultural heritages and femininity will be inspired by a unique musical landscape. Colombian Cumbia and its ‘barrios’ are the current investigation of this Peruvian photographer, a new piece in a colorful and virtuoso mosaic in the making, where everything turns out to be meaningful: even the high school prom of a young daughter, a conscious symbol of a future that will always have to remember its origins.

Credits: Celia D. Luna
Text by: Gianmarco Pacione