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Meet Trailblazer Emerald Arguelles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Emerald Arguelles.

Emerald, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was always a creator in some fashion. Growing up in New Orleans, I always saw the dancers in the Mardi Gras parades and that’s what I always wanted to be. So, I started off as a dancer, poet, painter and finally settling in photography. When I started pursuing photography, I was doing concert photography. I was already a heavy concert goer, so this seemed to be the next natural step.

However, I found it difficult to have my own personal style in concert photography.  There are so many aspects that you don’t control and the anxiety surrounding it made me take a step back.   It was a difficult decision to stop concert photography because I didn’t know any other aspect of photography, but I became a better photographer from it.   I knew that I had a vision, I just had to discover what I wanted to discuss in my photography.

Initially, I dove into strange scenarios that were formed from hours of anime and horror movies. Which really, I believe showed the extremes of my creativity. I learned to really push those visions that I had to another level that I felt that I hadn’t. I was heavily inspired by Roger Ballen in this stage of my artistry. “Asylum of the Birds”  really outlined a lot of my early work, and really showed me what and where you can go with photography.

At this point, I felt my focus shift, I started to see a gap. I didn’t see the women and men that looked like me, everything was the opposite actually. I was told that this was the “blueprint” for me to follow, which prompted many questions, followed by anger, and now currently a passion. I take pride in my black friends occupying white spaces through my photography, I feel like when we are present, we are creating an entire paradigm shift. Today, my passion is to show black men and women in positive, regal and respectful likeness. I am currently reading Art On My Mind by Bell Hooks, which is outlining my current series, My God Wears a Durag, title inspired by Solange.

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I really invest months into building concepts to showcase the excellence of black people.  I believe I am more than a photographer but overall an artist.  I have kept to a rule of only discussing issues of things that I genuinely feel and not what others want from me or what the masses will like.  I really focus on doing what feels right and making sure my intentions are pure in everything I do.   The moment I felt the most proud was when someone who saw my work at an exhibition called me crying because they were so moved emotionally and that moved me to tears as well.  Knowing that these ideas I create in the dead of night for months can evoke that kind of emotion is my greatest achievement because it can happen over and over again.

Which women have inspired you in your life?
The woman that has inspired me the most is my mom, she grew up in rural Mississippi in the 1960s and dealt with racism, adversity, and trauma. However, she went to make history as becoming the first black female police officer in Picayune, Mississippi and raising four children by herself. After Katrina, she packed everything we had in the house and moved us to Ohio and created a whole new life by herself. She is the greatest example of strength and resiliency. She taught me so much about navigating through life, finding solutions and always grinding.

In my last two years of the Marine Corps, I met Master Sergeant Mashiel Marquez. She is a second mom to me, while I was in the Marine Corps, she really invested so much time into making sure that I grew into a strong woman outside of the Marine Corps. She is graceful, assertive and beautiful. She opened her family up to me and treated me like a daughter. I always have her voice playing in my head, as I navigate through life. I feel that I am forever indebted to her for all that she has given me.

Frida Kahlo and Nina Simone have been the greatest influence as an artist. Frida and I were born on the same day, I always feel that I am a reincarnation of her. Her confidence, attitude, and transparency are things that I have always wanted to emulate.

Nina Simone is the blueprint in the sense of her care and thoughtfulness for black people. She went out of her to make sure we were represented and respected. I revisit her interviews often to create mantras and to realign my intentions.

Pricing:

  • Prints: 5×7 -$50 | 8.5×11 – $100 | 11×14 – $200| 16×20 – $250
  • Shoots: 100/hr

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.emeraldarguelles.com
  • Phone: 6142169677
  • Email: emeraldarguelles@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @emeraldarguelles


Image Credit:
Personal Photo: Kiana Pickett

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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