Wednesday, June 8, 2011

En Foco In Focus

En Foco was established by a small group of dedicated Latino photographers in NYC back in the mid '70s. Tired of the continued lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the photographic landscape, they decided to initiate their own process of inclusion by organizing and reaching out to photographers of color, mounting their own exhibits, holding their own workshops, etc. They've come a long way, and have expanded quite nicely over the decades into a sizable organization that includes: publications, stipends, awards, exhibitions, classes, etc. and through their programs have provided valuable training and exposure to photographers of color throughout the world.

That's the good news... I must say however that I am more than somewhat disheartened that they have chosen to completely stay clear of our online discussions concerning the very topics that led to their creation. This was quite apparent when recently discussing FOAM, and also back in '09 when discussing the PDN Annual judging panel.

I realize that En Foco has struggled long and hard to establish themselves and get where they are, and that they are not going to in any way jeopardize their current standing or position in that precarious world of art, connection and funding. But when Joerg Colberg at Conscientious (not exactly your fly by night presence on the web) lets out an earnest, heart felt plea asking what the photo community at large can actually do to help level the playing field in so many of the areas yet to be reached- it's really inexcusable that there is not a single word of advice, affirmation or explanation from the very organization that should be leading. A viable opportunity to enlighten and quite possibly set things further in motion both squandered and negated- it's still not too late...

Encl: My 2nd email to Miriam Romais, En Foco Executive Director--

Dear Ms. Romais,
I'm sorry you've apparently chosen not to respond to my inquiry. I thought a statement, a bit of advice or dialogue to the question posed on Conscientious would have been beneficial, particularly towards helping to explain the barriers and obstacles that still exist when it comes to people of color in the arts. Coming from someone with your experience would have had the ring of authority, rather than conjecture.

I realize, of course, that your interest and loyalties are to En Foco and those that support it and its various programs, but I don't see how this would have in any way detracted from or compromised said interests- in fact, this might have been an opportunity to help acknowledge those efforts.
Stan Banos

PS- In the interest of full disclosure, I was a member of En Foco for approximately a year and a half back in the mid/late '70s before we gradually drifted apart- not because of any great political or philosophical rift or confrontation, probably more because I was in my very early twenties and not focusing on any one thing for any great length of time...

No comments: