Exhibits Explore Latin American Culture Through Photography

photography by Albritton

Lilly Albritton PhD’15 traveled to Mexico City, among seven other cities, to capture the local devotional rites to the Virgin of Guadalupe. 

Two photography exhibitions exploring and challenging the perception of Latin American cultures are setting up shop in the Visual Arts Building.

UT Dallas alumna Lillian Albritton PhD’15 and doctoral candidate Lupita Murillo Tinnen are debuting new bodies of work with an opening reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday.

Albritton, who earned her PhD in aesthetic studies from UT Dallas this spring, traveled across the Southwestern United States to document devotional rites to the Virgin of Guadalupe. Since 2007, she has attended celebrations and processions honoring the Catholic figure in eight cities: Mexico City; San Antonio; Dallas; El Paso, Texas; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Phoenix; and Los Angeles.

Her exhibition, “¡Que Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!,” is the result of her extensive travels.

“I think that Las Cruces was perhaps the most unique, especially because of the care put into planning the celebration each year — Dec. 10-12 is the culmination of their year,” she said. “I was really able to see the mixing of the Old and New World traditions there, particularly in terms of their Matachine dancers. Their dance groups combine elements from Aztec, European and Plains Indian cultures.”

Murillo Tinnen

Amalia, Factory Worker, Uriangato  is part of Lupita Murillo Tinnen’s exhibit that documents the lives of Latin American migrants in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.              

The collection, a combination of black-and-white and color photographs produced from both digital files and film, is meant to challenge viewers to rethink their assumptions about religious devotion, she said.

“I think that in general, we think of religious — especially Hispanic — devotion as very traditional and conservative in nature. These celebrations for Guadalupe are about community, but are also about the individual,” Albritton said.

Her work has been exhibited at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 500X Gallery, the Oak Cliff Cultural Center and the Latino Cultural Center, and she has worked as a studio manager for Dallas-based photographer Laura Wilson since 2005. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art history from Southern Methodist University.

Alongside Albritton’s exploration of religion in the Southwest, Lupita Murillo Tinnen’s exhibit “Immigrant Laborers” documents the lives of Latin American migrants in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

Using text and graphics alongside portraits of her subjects, her work challenges long-held documentary conventions, she said.

“These conventions include stark, straightforward, simple and non-manipulated images,” Tinnen said. “My images challenge this notion because they are created on the computer starting with a blank white canvas and then I add a portrait, text and other graphics to create a final image.”

Tinnen said she creates a narrative by adding additional information such as wage statistics, maps and smaller images that are repeated across the main visual.

“Instead of creating a simple and straightforward image, I create one that allows the viewer an opportunity to spend more time with the person in the portrait,” she said.  

Tinnen is a first-generation Mexican-American, and she said her heritage highly influences her work.

“I am interested in photographing my culture and sharing it with the world,” she said. “This is different than someone from another culture trying to photograph my culture. Their perspective would be entirely different. I bring my own cultural experiences to the work.”

Tinnen is working on her PhD in aesthetic studies at UT Dallas. She’s also a professor of photography and humanities at Collin College. She holds an MFA in photography from the University of North Texas and a bachelors degree in photography from Texas A&M Commerce.

The free exhibitions will run through July 24. The Visual Art Building is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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