Juried Prize Award winner finds connection with photography

By Anaya Arroyo

Recent winner of the Vincent Price Museum’s Juried Prize Award, Eric E. Franco Aguilar, said all of his work continues to take inspiration from his own life.

“A majority of my work is somehow connected to things that I’ve experienced. While exploring my own story, I tend to discover that of others’ and share their stories too,” said Aguilar.

Aguilar, 23, became truly passionate about photography when his brother got deported.

The emotion felt when his brother was taken away was the starting point for his photography.

He admits he felt terrible for what had happened, but he looks back now and understands that these unfortunate chain of events are what brought him to the realization of what he loves and what is important to him: photography.

“I’m highly driven by curiosity, and my main aspiration is to have the people who look at my work be taken by it as well,” Aguilar said.

This became the foundation for his artwork displayed at Vincent Price Art Museum.

“Impresión de Libertad,” which is a collection of portraits of different people.

Although different, they all have a similar story. Every person displayed was deported. “I took the bus down to San Ysidro, California,” he said. From there Aguilar traveled to Mexico to photograph and interview the people in his collection at VPAM.

“I photograph things that are important to me,” Aguilar said. Every photograph taken tells a story. It is the fear of not knowing where to live and the confusion about not knowing who you are and where you belong.

The photographs display a life of uncertainty and strange beginnings. “They don’t know where they belong. One country no longer wants them and the other is unfamiliar. It’s kind of like they’re stuck in Purgatory,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar got inspiration from the people in Mexico. Every time he visits his brother, who currently resides in Mexico, he also pays a visit to the people living there who were deported and tries to learn more from them.

“Everyone has a story,” Aguilar said. He wants to help find a voice for these people.

Aguilar wants the rest of the world to view things as they truly are, not just a glimpse.

Aguilar first became especially interested in photography when he visited Puebla, Mexico two years ago. He found it fascinating how quickly he became intrigued by the nature, architecture and people there.

“From that moment on, I began taking photos,” Aguilar said.

Although Aguilar is majoring in Latin American Studies, he hopes to continue with photography for the rest of his life. Aguilar chose to major in Latin American Studies because he felt the profession more fit for life.

Even though Aguilar has a passion for photography, he finds it would be nearly impossible to make it in that field. But, even with an unattainable goal, Aguilar will continue with photography always.

Aguilar’s photography will soon be published in a book. He said his photography will soon be appearing in the Milestone book. “I just hope to continue seeing some positivity,” Aguilar said.

“A hobby to me is something enjoyable. It (art) is more than just enjoyable. It is my passion,” Aguilar said.

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