Amanda Lopez, caliLOVE
Currently on view at FreeGoldWatch in San Francisco, Amanda Lopez’s portraits are something that you’ve likely never seen before: the painted faces of Dia de los Muertos, but done with the delicate touch of a professional make-up artist, shot in a studio setting. The photographs are both startling and glamorous. I asked Amanda a few questions about the series.
What inspired you to put Dia de los Muertos in this black and white, studio context?
I usually shy away from working in a studio but for some reason when I was preparing for the 1st caliLOVE shot, I envisioned it in a studio right away. I knew I wanted the photos to be shot in black and white for the drama and decided that a gray back drop would work best. After shooting the first few models and looking over proof sheets, I decided that I was happy with the outcome and open to the new challenge of working indoors.
Can you discuss working with Jenni Tay on the look of the make-up? Was there research and planning beforehand or did this all happen when you were in the studio?
Jenni Tay (make-up artist) and Justin Downs (hair stylist) are amazing. I could not have done this project with out them. The process for both the hair and make up kind of happened really naturally. At first I would come to the set with sketch’s and ideas about how I wanted each model to look but after the first shoot I knew that my team was super on point so from then on, I would give minimal direction and they would go with it. Each and every time we did a session, they would blow my mind.
One of the photographs in the show displayed in a light box - it looks great - even when the light is off. Why the light box? Was it a challenge to get set up?
I would have loved to have shown all the images in light boxes but when I started to research them I realized that the cost to make or buy them would have been out of my budget. I really wanted to see at least one image displayed that way so thats why there is only one light box piece in the show. The light box is really special though. I was lucky enough to have two members of the legendary art collective, the Royal Chicano Air Force, create the box for me. Rudy Cuellar and Louie the Foot went out of their way to help me make the box. Louie is a skilled frame maker and build the box for me and Rudy painted and put in the light fixture in for me. These men are legends and I am lucky that I had their support and encouragement.