Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isabel Quintero & illustrator Zeke Peña

I had never heard of Graciela Iturbide before this book. I had no idea what had been missing in my life.

I love this book.

Read it. You will too.

The goodreads blurb states:

Graciela Iturbide was born in México City in 1942, the oldest of 13 children. When tragedy struck Iturbide as a young mother, she turned to photography for solace and understanding. From then on Iturbide embarked on a photographic journey that has taken her throughout her native México, from the Sonora Desert to Juchitán to Frida Kahlo’s bathroom, to the United States, India, and beyond. Photographic is a symbolic, poetic, and deeply personal graphic biography of this iconic photographer. Iturbide's journey will excite readers of all ages as well as budding photographers, who will be inspired by her resolve, talent, and curiosity.

It's a succinct overview, but here's the thing, it doesn't acknowledge how potent this book is. Graciela Iturbide's photographs are mystical, mythical, amplifying the place "in-between: those spaces where unknown worlds, real and imagined, intersect." They are images that interpret and synthesize, frame by frame, reality across space and time. Isabel Quitero's and Zeke Peña's stunning work illuminate this reality. You will have to read the actual book to fully grasp what this means.

Isabel Quitero's exquisite first person prose of the graphics sections is juxtaposed by full page text with a narrator who speaks directly to us about Graciela Iturbide's life and work. Zeke Peña's striking images pay homage to her black and white photos and then transform them so that they come to life and speak to us.

You will inevitably want to look at more of her work after reading the book. You might, like me, take a bit of time to immerse yourself in her photography, and then come back for another read. I promise, it will be even more impressive the second time round.

The best books are those that resonate long after the last page is turned. This is one of those. It's a portal, an opening into a different way of knowing the world. I might have finished this book, but that doesn't mean it's finished with me. For starters, I'm haunted by this,

and this.

We are all fragments of one another,
strewn across Mexico and across borders.
Different lines in the same poem.

It's left me pondering what it means to be who I am, and how I can become more. It's brought me to a deeper understanding that I am somehow, all the other women in the world, that I am somehow, everyone and everything. Ultimately, the contradiction is that the more we learn about the world, the more we become, and the more we understand who we are.

The back matter includes a short classic biography of Graciela Iturbide, a list for further reading, information about the creators, and a list of photographs reproduced in the book.

Find and read this. You will leave with a much richer understanding of Graciela Iturbide, the power of photography, and of Mexico itself.

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