"In The Studio With:..." is a weekly feature that takes us into the private creative spaces of emerging artists to discuss their work and career.
John Raymond Mireles is a photographer who is always on the go. He began his career as a rock climber shooting rock climbers and then moved into fashion and commercial photography, before dedicating himself to a personal style that fuses documentary and fine art traditions. Currently, he travels the United States, examining the relationships between people and places, and between people and each other.
His series, "Neighbors," featuring fifty recent images shot in Anchorage, Alaska, will be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Anchorage Museum, opening September 15, 2017.
Anthony Philip Fine Art: How did you arrive at the idea of portraying so many different kinds of people in your "Neighbors" series, and how easy is it to convince everyday people to sit for you?
J. Raymond Mireles: This project has been really been the result of an evolution that began when I started photographing people in my neighborhood in San Diego. After receiving such a strong positive reaction from the community and media from my public display of the work, I began photographing in other states as I traveled as part of a mobil residency with Culturunners. At some point, I decided to take it to all 50 states. I’ve been to 35 so far - the most recent being Alaska where I worked on a commission for the Anchorage Museum there.
Photographing strangers is never easy. I’m we’ll practiced at turning on the charm and making people feel immediately comfortable with me. This sort of project is not for everyone.
APFA: In "In The Land of My Father" series, you switch from shooting people to examining your familial heritage in New Mexico. What about this subject intrigued you to create this body of work
JRM: I wouldn’t say that I switched from shooting people. This project predates my Neighbors series. My work, with occasional exception, places people at the center. I like to tell stories with my work. I wanted to create a visual narrative of the place that is the land where my father was born and raised. To do this, I felt it was important to photograph both the environment and the people that inhabit that place.
APFA: More generally, how do you see the ways in which people are affected by their sense of place, and vise versa.
JRM: Humans are social beings. That being the case, we are all the products of the culture and the people around us. Within each geographic location there are many communities or tribes. It’s easy to see how people in a given place dress and act consistently with a given tribe. I look for people that outwardly represent their tribe in ways that are both archetypical and visually interesting.
APFA: You just recently relocated to New York from California. How has the change in your place informed your most recent work?
JRM: Not much actually. I’ve been traveling so much that I haven’t had much opportunity to live in the city, much less create work that’s influenced by my time here. Since arriving in December, I’ve been on the road almost half of that time. What time I have spent here has been directed to experiencing the abundance of contemporary art that’s on display here. (I’ve visited countless galleries and shows.) From that, ideas will doubtless spring.
APFA: What do you hope viewers take away from your photography?
JRM: Hopefully, a sense of connection and empathy towards my subjects.
If you'd like to find out more about John and his art, please visit: jraymondm.com