The New Mexicans: 1981-83

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The New Mexicans: 1981-83

By  Kevin Bubriski , Foreword by  Bernard Plossu , Contributions by  Matthew J. Martinez
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“One day, while living in New Mexico in the late 1970s and ʹ80s, I met the young photographer Kevin Bubriski, who had moved here like so many of us, coming from elsewhere. He showed me his prints of Nepal, and I knew right away that he was a true photographer. Kevin stayed, like many of us, for years, [capturing] the different lifestyles of this state, moving from south to north, from Santa Fe chic to Albuquerque real, and on up to Taos.”—Bernard Plossu 

Kevin Bubriski arrived in New Mexico the first week of January 1981. Fresh out of the Peace Corps, he had spent four years in Nepal photographing its remote mountain villages. He enrolled to study documentary filmmaking at Santa Fe’s Anthropology Film Center. His student film project “Chimayó Pilgrimage” followed construction worker Leroy Perea as he walked with a forty-pound cross on his shoulder from Santa Fe to Chimayó on Holy Thursday. Bubriski also met Michael Hausman, producer of the film The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez that was shooting locally,  and hired on as still photographer for the production.

Bubriski soon turned to photojournalism, covering news stories ranging from political rallies to sporting events. In between, he would connect with photographers at the center of Santa Fe’s thriving photography community. They included French photographer Bernard Plossu, who introduced him to Pierre Mahaim, Walter Nelson, Mary Peck, Doug Keats, Ed Ranney, Siegfried Halus, and Paul Caponigro. Bubriski’s assignments included following the campaign trail of Governor Toney Anaya for the Santa Fe New Mexican and covering the disappearance, manhunt, and funeral of St. Francis Basilica priest Father Reynaldo Rivera.

His encounters with New Mexicans were often serendipitous—a chance meeting with prominent Santa Fean Forrest Fenn led to an invitation to a garden party attended by Texas Governor John Connally and his wife. “I was welcome to wander and photograph . . . [and] the photos made it into the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper,” recalls Bubriski.

Bubriski was hired full time as staff photographer at the new semiweekly newspaper The New Mexico Sun, based in Albuquerque. In ‘Burque, he was drawn to the South Valley’s colorful Hispanic neighborhoods and the Rio Grande’s “beautiful flowing waters, [and] large cottonwoods.” Assigned to several different stories each day, he photographed local people and events—from the Balloon Fiesta to dances and feast days at San Juan, Santa Clara, and Tesuque Pueblos. He also spent time with a dozen incarcerated men at the New Mexico State Penitentiary, photographing them with a 4x5 field camera, and was later assigned by the Sun to photograph the women’s unit of the prison.
By the summer of 1983, longing to return to his documentary work in Nepal, Bubriski left New Mexico. THE NEW MEXICANS presents nearly two hundred images selected from his “New Mexico period” of 1981 to 1983. At the heart of Kevin Bubriski’s work are the faces of the people he met and photographed at home, at work, and at play in the Land of Enchantment: the New Mexicans.

Kevin Bubriski is a documentary photographer whose photographs are in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, among others. He is the author of numerous books includinG The Ughers: Kashgars Before the Catastrophe (GTF Publishing) and Look into My Eyes: Nuevomexicanos Por Vida, ’81-‘83 (Museum of New Mexico Press).   ,

ISBN: 9780890136850

ISBN-10: 9780890136850

Publisher: Museum of New Mexico Press

Publication Date: 06/15/2024 - 12:00am

On Sale: 06/15/2024 - 12:00am

Pages: 276

Language: English


Photography / Photoessays & Documentaries

Photography / Individual Photographers / Artists' Books

Photography / Subjects & Themes / Regional