Luis' Family

In 1966, I was invited to train for the Peace Corps at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. My training included an "in-country experience" in Mexico. Our group was taken to the city of Juárez where each of us was assigned to live with a family. Mine was a family of adobe brick makers. They lived in a barrio humilde (shantytown), outside of Juárez near the Rio Grande River. They were migrants from the state of Zacatecas. I started to photograph them. After I was "deselected" from the Peace Corps—a story in itself–I decided to return to Juárez to make a photographic essay about the family with whom I had stayed during Peace Corps training.

I photographed the men making adobe bricks in primitive kilns fired by old tires; Juana, the mother, making tortillas cooked over an open fire on a comal made of clay; the children working with their father, Alvino, and Luis, the man in whose brick yard they toiled. I titled the finished work "Luis' Family." My photographs were dark and somber, and showed in black and white the impoverished conditions in which the family lived.

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