This is a weekly series where we feature our incredibly talented Adolescent members and their work! Sign up here to join the Adolescent Membership and be part of the @ family!
Happy August! This week, we want to introduce you to Gabrielle Barrera. She’s our newest Member Crush for a reason—her photos are dreamy and mature, her collages overtly feminine and nostalgic. Keep reading to learn more about Gabrielle’s snail mail project, why her work focuses on the female experience, and her favorite photo she’s ever taken.
Adolescent Content: According to your site, your work has a focus on documenting the female experience. Why do you make that distinction? Who are some of your favorite female artists?
Gabrielle Barrera: I make the distinction because my life and work have been hugely influenced and impacted by the connections I've made with women. I started photography by almost exclusively taking photos of women who inspired me, and I feel like they taught me everything I know. Since then, I’ve met and studied many more women artists who have made me rediscover myself and my work. Those include Sizzy Rocket, Ana Mendieta, the performance artist pioneers of the ‘70s, Betty Tompkins, Laura Aguilar, Justine Kurlands, and Kate Sweeney.
Adolescent: What’s your favorite photo you’ve ever taken?
Gabrielle: My favorite photos of mine are the ones that I can reflect on later and use to understand that part of my life differently. Sometimes I look through old photos and think about what I was doing and feeling when I was taking them, and I feel like a completely different person. And I also feel the same.
Adolescent: Tell me about Dear Grrrls!
Gabrielle: Dear Grrrls is a snail mail project I started in April of this year. I posted on my instagram and asked any creative, woman-identifying person interested in sharing and receiving work from others to send me an envelope full of art. Anything goes. At the end of it, I’d redistribute the contents of the envelopes so that everyone who sent one in would get one back full of things from other artists. I’m currently doing my second swap, which ended July 26th!
Adolescent: You’re a Fine Arts student at DAAP University of Cincinnati right now. How has your education there shaped or refined your style?
Gabrielle: Because I’ve taken a range of studio classes and been assigned projects for mediums I had never worked with, I’ve become more interested in a wider range of practices. I have a new appreciation for sculptors, I’m still not very good at drawing, I learned about more Hispanic women artists, I met a lot of different people, and I tried a lot of new things.
Adolescent: I’m obsessed with this series you shot for Adolescent. Have your feelings about men policing women’s behavior changed at all? Do you think things have changed for the better at all?
Gabrielle: This is really difficult to answer. It is still happening, but we’re also still fighting. There have been ups and downs, wins and losses, but forward is the only way through. I can say for myself that since I’ve made that photo series, I’ve become more comfortable with my own body, and it matters less and less to me who tries to police it.