In Coyote Tales No. 1, Cara Romero creates a constructed image in front of the iconic Saints and Sinners bar in Española, New Mexico. The photograph has three figures present: Derek No-Sun Brown, Kaa Folwell and Dina DeVore. Brown is pictured as Coyote, a figure often described as a trickster in many Indigenous communities, while DeVore and Folwell directly confront the viewer by staring out through the camera. Romero amplifies natural elements pictured, including the addition of stars and red lighting to create a metaphysical aspect to the photograph, one that echoes notions of the supernatural. The work highlights a hybridity between this notion of “traditional” and “contemporary” Indigenous existence and experience, rejecting a colonial binary and centering a continuum of culture.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Chemehuevi, b. 1970
Cara Romero is a contemporary fine-art photographer raised between contrasting settings: the rural Chemehuevi reservation in Mojave Desert, California, and the urban sprawl of Houston, Texas. Romero’s identity informs her photography, a blend of fine-art and editorial photography shaped by years of study and a visceral approach to representing Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural memory, collective history and lived experiences from a Native American female perspective. As an undergraduate at the University of Houston, Romero pursued a degree in cultural anthropology. Disillusioned by academic and media portrayals of Native Americans as bygone, Romero realized that making photographs could do more than anthropology did in words, a realization that led to a shift in medium. Since 1998, Romero’s expansive oeuvre has been informed by formal training in film, digital, fine-art and commercial photography. By staging theatrical compositions infused with dramatic color, Romero takes on the role of storyteller, using contemporary photography techniques to depict the modernity of Native peoples, illuminating Indigenous worldviews and aspects of supernaturalism in everyday life. Maintaining a studio in Santa Fe, Romero regularly participates in Native American art fairs and panel discussions and was featured in PBS’ “Craft in America” series (2019). Her award-winning work is included in many public and private collections internationally.