Medellin '09 by adriana monsalve

I found a bunch of old negatives from 2009.  I had scanned them and everything.. I just completely forgot about them.  They are all from Medellin i think, maybe some are from surrounding towns.  My dad is from Medellin, every time I go back, I see more and more of this city and imagine his life in these streets before immigrating to the US at 17yrs of age. so yeah... here is Medellin, Colombia - 7yrs ago. Shot on a Hasselblad, a Holga, and a little spy camera.. that i don't know the name of - 110 film.  

hanging out after church..

hanging out after church..

street cleaning lady

street cleaning lady

from up on the funicula.. looking over the city

from up on the funicula.. looking over the city

my sister and i.. sisterhooding since '83

my sister and i.. sisterhooding since '83

my families church homies..

my families church homies..

el mexicano del barrio.. thats what my tio walter told me

el mexicano del barrio.. thats what my tio walter told me



my tia, margarita

my tia, margarita

drive by of a quinceañera   

drive by of a quinceañera


the street where my tio walter lives.. 

the street where my tio walter lives.. 

jhon walter and... i can't remember his lil homies name

jhon walter and... i can't remember his lil homies name

tio Jesid

tio Jesid

tio jesid

tio jesid

my dad telling the taxi where to go

my dad telling the taxi where to go



C H I C A G O O O #CUBSWIN by adriana monsalve

Feelin very Chicago today ! I am not a sports fan - but i lived in dat city for 2yrs ('07 - '09) and it was fundamental to the development of what i do and who i am today.  I love you chicago and i celebrate witchoo ! mucho pero mucho amooooor ! #cubswin #worldseries2016 #vivachicago 

PILSEN. my hood.

PILSEN. my hood.

PILSEN. my hood. 

PILSEN. my hood. 

MY HOMIES. fish fry on south shore drive. 

MY HOMIES. fish fry on south shore drive. 

OBAMA '08. gathering for a rally in the southside. 

OBAMA '08. gathering for a rally in the southside. 



PILSEN. my hood. 

PILSEN. my hood. 



MY QUEENDOM. Ashland Ave. Pilsen, Chicago

MY QUEENDOM. Ashland Ave. Pilsen, Chicago

shot on my Hasselblad ! all film ! #filmisnotdead #mediumformat #shootfilm

I am not a wedding photographer.. by adriana monsalve

I don't shoot weddings.  But this one time, I went to Puerto Rico and lived in a beach house and shot this wedding.  Happy almost two year anniverasy !!!!  If I had to shoot a wedding, I would choose this one again !  2yrs ago on Oct. 20, we had a blast, Congrats  #VivaPuertRico #YaTuSabe #VicnVal4life


Pursuit of happiness.. by adriana monsalve

It's the pursuit, really.  Cuz happiness is sometimes and happy ain't always.  And these days it's the least of many's worries, because safety is the thing. Black lives, brown lives, and indigenous lives don't matter outside of safe spaces, and even those crumble.  So, its the pursuit really.. it has to be.. 

DELTA SPIRIT by adriana monsalve

I don't know what to say about them.  They were/maybe still are my favorite band.  The first time I heard them I didn't know, cuz I went to see ColdWarKids at a dirty kid dive bar in Chicago, and they were opening for them.  I love CWK but their energy on stage  couldn't match the openers... I mean, don't get me wrong, CWK were amazing performers and I still STAN for them.. but it's very clear who does a better live set.  Since 2006, that first time that I accidentally heard them, I was all in.. so committed.  I can't tell you how many times I've seen them live, and I would still be going to their shows if they were doing them. The members of the band have moved around a lot.  They started out as a Southern Cali band - then they moved to Brooklyn - then they separately moved to different places.  Matthew Logan Vasquez, the lead singer / song writer of the band moved to Texas. He's been writing for himself and doing more acoustic stuff, and he's still just as brilliant.  I didn't move here for him, although it was lovely to see him perform a solo set in January, in Austin TX.  He talked about being a chicano and more so, talked about his niche identity of Chicano / Jew.  There were probably like 15 people at the show, but I was too happy to do anything but listen and cry (lets be honest).  His artistry and chemistry are just... wow like, an adrenaline rush to the head. Like you know you are in the presence of some real legendary super human magic.  I love every performance I've ever seen of DS and now MLV.  The following images are from a 2010 (?) show in ...Washington DC i think (?) but it very possibly could have been Baltimore.  Wherever it was I apparently was in the front row!  You already know, fam !  Anyways, this is one of the many times I've known pure joy overflowing because of Delta Spirit.  

Shot on my  Contax T2  ! aka dabombs.coms

Shot on my Contax T2 ! aka dabombs.coms

BIG FISH by adriana monsalve

If you've ever seen the movie, BIG FISH, you remember William Bloom - -  A father who is larger than life with stories to big for any book to hold, with a son that wants to determine what parts of this story are fact or fiction.  If you haven't seen it, I recommend it, it's enchanting in the best ways and whimsical too.  

The story that follows is about my friend, Mando.  I was so captivated by his stories that I decided to do a short project.  Linko and I went to his house and recorded him as he told us stories for 2 days.  I had my sister, Jael, listen to the audio because I wanted her to write the piece to go along with the pictures.  What she had to say completely flipped the script...

- -

text by: Jael Amador

“When I was a kid, I didn’t get to play,” said Mando without the slightest hint of sadness or self-pity. Mando understood that in order to manage a household of 8 sons, his parents needed to be strict. So at the age of six, when most of his classmates were learning to tie their shoes, Mando was spending his days either working in the family plant nursery or selling watermelons on the side of the road. Today, he continues to wear his work ethic as a badge of honor, basking in his ability to withstand the midday Laredo sun as he tends to the impeccably manicured garden of the city’s most prestigious hotel.  

Mando’s own garden is less than a mile away and is significantly less organized than the hotel grounds. Yet, he takes great pride in showing off the home that he has lived in by himself since the age of 14. Mando’s mother tried everything, including police intervention, to convince the then middle schooler to move with the rest of the family to Illinois, where his father had secured a good paying job and a three story home big enough for the family of 10. But Mando refused and there was nothing anyone could do.

So he faced his new responsibilities as the man of the house with a fearlessness rarely found in 14 year olds. He supported himself on $90 a week that he made from working at a candle company. With his meager earnings, he kept a diet of eggs and potatoes. 

“And when I wanted to change it up, I had potatoes and eggs.” He said with a smile that indicated that this was his favorite joke. 

It is with that same smile that he tells of all of his adventures as an adolescent who thrived in the world all on his own. 

But somewhere in the middle of the stories, the questions begin to form: Would a mother really leave a middle schooler on his own? Who would hire a 14 year old? Why didn’t the police or schoolteachers intervene? How can a person say they’re brave, yet never go beyond the borders of their hometown?

And finally, what is it about Mando that causes everyone to ignore these obvious questions?

The answer comes as he pauses from his story, looks up into the sky and smiles. 
After all these years, Mando finally gets to play.

- -

Is it possible that I been hanging out with Laredo's Big Fish, and never once questioned the validity of anything ?  I'm supposed to be a journalist.  Facts should matter and be important.  But I swear everything he said was 100% truth.. 

So you decide, fact or fiction ? 
C. all of the above

Thank you to Jael for collaborating with me on this piece :) 
collab's are the best !
If you don't know, get to know, the homie, the bae, the singer, the songwriter, the author, the artist, the doctor, the kween: JAEL AMADOR ..wait, big fish?  

El Grito by adriana monsalve

This past week was Mexico's Independence day.  September 16 is the anniversary of the Cry of Dolores aka El Grito.  Downtown Laredo gets so hype !  You really see the merging of two cities as everyone is celebrating the independence of another country that we are technically not in.  But you forget cuz the hype is so real and at the end of the night I have to remember again where it is I live.. I'm still in the USA although it may feel so far away.  

That's life on the margins.  Thats kinda what happens when you live on the edges.  There is this idea that when you stand at the edge of something you can see it as a whole more clearly as opposed to standing in center of it.  This is definitely up for debate, and I find myself on both side of the discussion.  But, there is definitely something to be said about that space, about the intersection of things.  I don't do to well with boundaries but I love the intersection. And international borders are part of that.  And maybe parts of that statement are true.. That when you stand at the intersection of US/MEX you can see both sides more clearly than you can at the center of either one.  I see it, because thats just it isn't it ? This country is not what Trump says it is.  Brown is everywhere and People of Colour are not going anywhere and theres just gonna be more and more of us.  So yeah, when I stand on the edge of this country, so close to the other side that I can see it by turning my head... I forget that it's another nation, because we are sharing the same space and I forget theres a border, cuz for one night I live in Mexico.  

My bad for not posting last week, I'll post again this week to make up ^_^
- -

Laredo's own; GOLDEN GIRLS by adriana monsalve

St. Augustine High School remains to date the only High School in Laredo, TX and in the Diocese of Laredo. Today, St. Augustine High School is staffed and administered by both lay and religious faculty, and it continues to base its education on a tradition of academic excellence and Catholic principles - a tradition founded in the history of St. Augustine School, St. Joseph’s Academy and Ursuline Academy; a tradition of educating and forming the whole person, mind, body, and spirit.

I was given the pleasure to document the 50th anniversary of Laredo's St Augustin High School 's graduating class of 1965.  Back then, it was an all womens academy.  The ladies were a joy to hang out with as they told stories about the past and talked about how many of them hated each other in high school but, like typical mean girls, as adults they grew out of it and are now close friends.  They look forward to this reunion every year.  Many of them travel from all across Texas to see their classmates again.  They enjoy these times so much that they decided 12 years ago, to celebrate every year instead of every 10.  

There was a classmate that everyone said looked like Barbara Walters growing up and that she still did today.. I had to guess which of them it was.. so you do to.  I was surprised to find that there was a classmate that had come to school in Laredo all the way from Holland.  She fell in love with a man form here, changed her last name from Wiechert to Vega, and stayed ever since.   It still amazes me, the intersection of people you find in border towns.  There was another lady named Rosie, that was the leader of the pack and had the wit of Sophia (Goldon GIrl's), everyone was nervous of what she was gonna say next.  There was a classmate named, Eva Delgado, that I can't express it well, but we just connected on many things and she gave me so much advice throughout the night.   

Anyways, this is a little recap of that evening last winter.

Hasta Wiechert, now Vega

Hasta Wiechert, now Vega

Teresa Seanz aka Barbara Walters

Teresa Seanz aka Barbara Walters

my homie, Señora Delgado

my homie, Señora Delgado

Sister Karen

Sister Karen

Mary L Dickinson


RUNAWAYS by adriana monsalve

I collect runaways.  I started a couple years ago.  No matter where I find myself in the world I can always work on this project because runaways are everywhere.  I think most of us are running, some of us more than others, some of us more literally than others, but we are running.. wether we are chasing or escaping... seems to matter little.. because the effect is the same: we run.  

an excerpt from my piece on Runaways. 

The project that started my project, the brilliant: Jim Goldberg's Raised By Wolves
To see my project on runaways, go here: RUNAWAYS

I'll be adding the runaways I've been collecting little by little to the project.  The goal is to get to 100, and then I'll think about making a book.  Or maybe it should be 101.. I wanna add my story too.

The story that goes with the images above.. is in the process of being made.  I am working with the lovely subject of these images: jamila silvera, to put it together.  I'll add it to the actual project page in a couple weeks.  I'll let you know when I do.  But for now..  

a runaway tune..

Fall 2016: New School Year, New Syllabi <3 by adriana monsalve

School is back in session staring Tuesday.  I'll be teaching Photo 1, Photo II, and a new class - Adobe for Publication.  I LOVE PHOTO II.  I love it so much in fact, that I change the syllabus every semester.  Story telling is vast and ever changing, so I change it cuz I feel like there is so much to cover.  I teach Photo II as a highly content based course.  Photography will always be technical and you really never stop honing in on those skills.. but I am much more interested in the content side of things.. not so much how you're shooting it, but more, what you are shooting and why? 

Storyline over everything is key.  This is how I know I am a journalist before a photographer.. Cuz I'm much more interested in the subject matter / the story line / why your shooting this, as opposed to how lovely / beautiful / technically sound the product is.  Of course a technically sound project is probably gonna communicate the content and idea better.  They work together, they are both necessary and essential to being a visual communicator.  But, everybody has to start somewhere and I believe the sooner you start thinking about how to tell stories the better off you will be.  Because, honestly, if your constantly shooting - the whole technically sound thing - is gonna happen for you - I promise.  But; understanding how to create stories, how to see stories, how to find them, how to follow a narrative... that takes a completely different kind of learning.  And that's not a learning that can happen with just doing something a certain amount of times - i mean sure that helps ! - but thinking in narratives and story lines is something you have to be confronted with.  It takes a large amount of critical thinking and problem solving.  This is what I am introducing in PHOTO II.  The more time I spend with my students, showing them the new and ever evolving forms of story telling.. the more amazed I am with the work they produce.  They're undergrad students.. and some of them are really killin the game.  I learn so much from the way they tell stories. Storytelling is my favorite thing.. I can talk about it forever and i've dedicated the past 5yrs of my life to it.  So obviously, this is my favorite class.  

This semester, I am really excited about the subject matter.  This will be my 3rd time teaching PHOTO II.  3 and numbers that have pairings of 3 in them are my favorite digits.  So I'm pretty sure this class is gonna be ridiculous in growth, challenge, and product.  So much fun.

The focus for this semester is: A STUDY OF CENTERING THE 'OTHER' THROUGH REPRESENTATIONS OF BLACKNESS.  I know; it's a lot and it's heavy.  If storytelling is my favorite thing, then race and identity is my favorite subject to tell stories about.  There is a lot of jargon just in the title:

• Centering
• Other
• Representation
• Blackness

These are not common terms for the majority of the Laredo community.  If they aren't woke before this class, I hope and pray they will be a lot closer 4 months from now.  And woke encompasses a lot of things, so I'll just say - woke to race.  The major tool I am using in this course is the camera as a tool for representation.  We will only be looking at storytelling / content / subject matter / and photographers that put the black experience at forefront and center of the story.. Content that revolves around the seeing of blackness from the first visual story tellers to the avant garde of today, and how that story pertains to ours as Latinos / as minority groups who intersect on many things.  This class is largely about seeing where they live - the border / the margin / the edges -  as central to the American story and placing themselves and their environment as fundamental representations of the narrative.  

So yeah, I know it's a lot.  But I push my students cuz I push myself and I know they can do it.  

I love making syllabi because it's challenging to put together ideas and content for growth over a period of time but also because the process is partly a collab effort that i do with my homie and sister: Caterina Ragg.  She takes my word documents and images, and turns them into something beautiful ^_^

i love a good collab.. #godblessthecollab
They're a masterpiece, really..
am i right ?

*click on the images to see them bigger

If you have any questions about the content or otherwise, ask me!

Here is the syllabus for a new class that has never been taught at TAMIU: ADOBE FOR PUBLICATION.  I'm really excited about this too.  If Storytelling is my favorite thing all comes together and actually becomes a story when you put it into formation.  Be it a website, or a book / zine / layout.  When images and words intersect - some sort of platform for layout is born.  And a lot of that is what is going to be happening in this class.  It's about learning how to use adobe software for publication purposes.  Zines are my 3rd favorite thing... So you know the final is gonna be lit.

If you have any questions about the content or otherwise, ask me!
or just take my class ^_^

happy week ya'll !
next week i'll show a story again..
sorry to break up da flow, i just love my syllabi.


Albita: An Immigrants Tale by adriana monsalve

Albita is a Pediatric Psychiatrist in El Salvador.  Fifteen years ago - right before 9/11 - she immigrated to this country.  Albita knew she would be putting in work to become a Doctor here as well.  As soon as she was more stable and wasn't afraid of her surroundings (aka. became legal) she began the process of becoming a Doctor in this country.  She put in the work to learn the language and she took the tests and passed.  

Today, Albita is unable to work with her passion of Pediatric Psychiatry.  Simply because Doctor positions are filled first and foremost by individuals who graduate from American Universities.  So even though she did everything right, she is a Doctor in this country, but she has not been hired.  She has applied all over the nation.  She has organized with other Doctors who have immigrated to this country and passed the tests and are in the same situation.  They meet once a year and discuss their rights, how to forward their careers, as well as their lives.  But its been ten years and she is still stuck.  Albita hasn't lost hope though, she believes she will be a working Doctor in this country.  

Until that day, she is a top Mary Kay consultant / seller.  Everything Albita does, she does it to the utmost degree.  She will always come out on top because she is one of the hardest working people I have ever known.  She has become a homie as well as an adopted tia. She lives in a very pink house with her dog, Dustin.  

This is an immigrants tale, of which there are so many..
It seems I am collecting them.. much more to come..
for now.. this is Albita:

This is not the American Dream, this is the American Nightmare. Go to sleep late, wake up early, go to work.. from work to home, home to work. Thats your life, live to work.

The American Dream is idealistic, like a Cinderella story; You meet the prince and everything is going to be right and colorful.

But its not that way. When you come here you find different barriers. First of all, the language is the most powerful barrier. Then you have technologies. I remember the first time i arrived and I saw a highway… What is a highway ? We don’t have those in El Salvador. People were angry because I would get lost but, “I’m sorry I’m late, I got lost, but we don’t have beltways there in my country.”

The barriers are different for everyone. You come here and you don’t have friends. You have to look for what you believe, look for your principles.. The first thing I did when I came here is I came to the church. I believe in God and myself and nobody else.

..In my country when you buy your house, you know that’s it. But here, no; it’s another system, you have to pay rent and it’s very high. And if you buy a house you have to pay mortgage until you die and then you have taxes! We didn’t have taxes in my country. O my God, even the car needs an insurance !? So many changes.. You need to go little by little, with time.. plus the paperwork.
— Albita

#BLACKLIVESMATTER #MIKEBROWN #FERGUSON ..2yrs later by adriana monsalve

This Tuesday, August 9, marks the 2 year anniversary of Mike Browns death..

"The shooting of Michael Brown occurred on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, a northern suburb of St. Louis. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson police officer. The disputed circumstances of the shooting of the unarmed man sparked existing tensions in the predominantly black city, where protests and civil unrest erupted. The events received considerable attention in the U.S. and elsewhere, attracting protesters from outside the region. They generated a vigorous national debate about the relationship between law enforcement and African Americans, and about police use of forcedoctrine in Missouri and nationwide."

The death of Mike Brown was the first protest of that kind that I attended and marched in.  By 'that kind', I mean the kind that is about advocacy of not killing an individual because of their race.  I never imagined that I would see the amount of racism that Black America experiences today.  At the time I did not realize that this would become a common occurrence and that #BLACKLIVESMATTER would become the hashtag I use most frequently.  #MIKEBROWN changed everything.  There was no more nuance, nobody could tell me this wasn't real.  I remember having a conversation with my dad, and he didn't believe me when I was explaining to him what happened.. he couldn't believe that something so obviously racist could be happening in 2014 in the USA.  

It's 2 years later and it hasn't stopped happening.  I've since moved from a big city, so I no longer march or protest these days, but I do talk.  And I talk a lot; in hopes of my students or anyone around me, grasping what is happening to black lives outside of this very limited view they have at the border.  Because in this marginalized community of border towns, the main issue is immigration.. and thats important, very important, and it requires all my attention.  But, Black lives still matter.. 

In Laredo, there are about 10 people that identify as black.  This city is 96% Latino and many identify as white because of the color of their skin.  That is another blog post altogether (which I will do, I promise).  The point is that because of the lack of black representation in this community, people here do not think #BLACKLIVESMATTER.  Because it is not an issue, they have no interest in the news, and so they see it as a black issue and not their issue.  Instead of being intersectional as minorities with another minority group.. most see it as not their thing.  It sucks.  But it's the work of being a bridge and so I'll keep talking because #BLACKLIVESMATTER.

So.. 2 years ago I attended the first #BLACKLIVESMATTER protest in Washington, DC.  I took my camera because I didn't know what to expect and honestly I was so scared by what was going on.. I just wanted to be in solidarity with my black brothers and sisters.  I am not one of those photographers that takes their camera everywhere.  A lot of times, I want to experience things for myself and go through all the emotions right then and there in real time.  I can't do that in the same way when I have a camera in my hands.  If I bring my camera its usually for one of three reasons:

If I haven't seen it/heard about it before, its likely that many haven't.  And if thats the case, it needs more visibility.  Document the unknown so it becomes known.  I cant claim ignorance when you've been informed.  
Fear is actually the biggest thing that makes me grab a camera.  Fear of this shit show of a world we find ourselves in, fear of myself, fear of my feelings.. on most days, I'm crying behind the camera.  This is just a tool to hide my tears.  
To show you actual documentation so you know this is happening and we need to be speaking and advocating for this.  You may know this is happening, but maybe you have not seen it, once you see it... you can't deny it... although today it seems more and more video footage and images don't matter #PhilandoCastile #AltonSterling..but still advocacy, very important, and video footage and photography play a big roll in that. 

On that day 2 years ago, I brought my camera for all of the above.  I would like to share with you what I was able to capture in solidarity with #BLACKLIVESMATTER and this continuous hope that a cease fire soon come.


SO, I'M A PROFESSOR AND I HAVE STUDENTS (and feelings to work through).. it's a long read.. sorry by adriana monsalve

I have been an adjunct professor at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) for about 8 months.  It's not something I tell people, not because I hate my students or hate the job.. it's quite the opposite really.  I find that being an educator is the most humbling and rewarding experience of my life thus far.  I've packed a lot into these 32yrs, but I never thought I would be a teacher.  I've had the privilege of sitting in classrooms of Professors I look up to and admire that today are friends and mentors.  I've always loved school, I love academic achievements, they are my favorite kind.  I value this profession greatly.   I just never thought I would do it.  Because as an artist I've always thought this is how I will make my living; as an artist.  Selling my stories, being commissioned for stories etc etc.. making enough money with the work that I do.  

I committed to being a photojournalist 100% at the age of 28.  Before than, I had jumped in and out, dabbled here and there, always claimed photographer and story teller, but I wasn't all in.  It's been 4yrs since I've been all in.  It's hard, It's really hard, being a creative will make you cry a lot but sometimes, most times, if you really want it, it doesn't matter.. it's worth it.  I think the fact that I'm still doing this past 30, means I'm here to stay.  *Anis Mojgani, says it best.. from his poem HERE AM I:

"..Using his sharpie tip writing: 
I was here
I was here, mothafucka
And ain't none of y'all can write that in the spot that I just wrote it in.."

He's eluding to something being made concrete.  He's solidifying lost memories / nostalgia from his youth.  He's claiming ownership on his life as its seen by others and himself in a permanent way.  And that resonates with me.  I am a photojournalist.. I am just beginning the work.  The fact that I am a professor does not take away from the fact that I am a photojournalist.  For a long time, until today actually; with the help of a homie; I was able to understand that.. 

You see, the reason I haven't told most people that know me that I'm a professor is because saying it, makes me feel like less of an artist.  Makes me feel like a sell out in many ways.  But I know very well that more than one identity can live inside of me at all times.  

So yeah, I'm Adriana and I'm an adjunct professor at TAMIU and this is a project that I did with my favorite class (yes we have favorites - don't believe us when we say we don't).  I shot these portraits and interviewed the subjects 2 weeks ago.  Some publications ran this story last week but they left out many of the students, so I've decided to post the whole thing here with everybody included and a write up by me  ^_^

•   •   • 

//// BORDER YOUTH ////

The Mexico-United States border is an international boundry running from the pacific edge of California, USA / Tijuana, Mexico to the South West edges of Texas, USA / Matamoros, Mexico. This boundry is a literal wall through most of the variaty of the terrain it traverses. Except for in specific areas of Texas. What we have in many border towns of Texas is a borderless border.  In the sense that, there is no barred wall that keeps one from entering; it is simply a river that separates two nations: The Rio Grande.  From one side of the river you can see into Mexico and wave at those washing their clothes by the river banks. They are two countries side by sidesharing resources, commerce, travel, work and more. But, if you dare cross, you are at risk ofbeing shot by Border Patrol.

Laredo is located on the north bank of the Rio Grande in South Texas, across from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Laredo and Nuevo Laredo are sister cities. They share the same name because they share the culture and the recourses as well as the people. After all, Laredo is 96% Latino.  It is a fast growing city, said to be the fourth highest populated border town in the US. It is a major import/export city with more than a billion dollars worth of commerce moving across the USA and Mexico daily. Laredo has no barred wall. Trump wants to change that. When you hear him talking about building a wall, he is specifically speaking about the Texas border, because California already has a wall, it is Texas that proposes the "problem".

Worldwide more homes have been invaded and barricaded because of a wall. Talk of a wall in this town is everywhere and the fear is felt throughout the city. It seems we are at the edge of something violent and chaotic. The media coverage of immigration and the wall is pervasive as it repeats Trumps agenda. But in these bordertowns live the communities that will potentially feel these changes on all levels of their lives.

I am a photojournalist and adjunct professor at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) and these are some of my students. What will happen to them in the coming months could shift the direction of their lives. These are their thoughts and views on what is happening right now and how it effects their daily lives and the things that matter to them most.



“As a young American, what matters to me is my future.

If Trump wins I will be very disappointed in my country. We’re the country everyone is risking their lives to be in….and all for this loser to win the election?!?! No creo yo!” (Translation: I don’t think so!)

I’ll feel the need to work that much harder because I have no idea what Trump has in mind aside from a giant wall. This country should welcome anyone who wants to live a better life. I understand there’s certain arrangements people have to make, and that’s why I feel that the U.S. should make the citizenship process move a lot quicker for families and others that sincerely want to live a better life, because this is the country to do it in.

I’m not sure what I would tell someone who wants to become a citizen… like are you sure you wanna do this? My country be acting up and they show signs of hope only every so often.”



“What happens in the coming elections matters.. the choice hasnt happened yet… so its not real. Once someone is chosen, ill be freaking out.

I wanna finish school already. I wanna decide wether to get my masters or not, I wanna do it in communications, and I don't know what that would take. There's so many things I wanna do and not finishing school is somehting that stops me from doing all those things. School is my fulltime job. One more semester and im free.

My family and freinds matters alot. I dont have a lot, but their cool. I've never been at a point in my life where I feel good with school freinds and work freinds and so close with my family.

Another thing that is really important to me is, figuring out who i am. thats taken me a long time. Im 23.. and I still don’t know who I am.

I wanna get into Roller Derby. When I’m done stressing out with papers, I'll be able to completely dive into that aspect. I really wanna try out. Even if I don’t get on the team, I wanna be a ref.”



"Trump's plans will hit not only me but most of my family.  They come across from [Mexico] and some of them don’t have papers. My mom does, but some of my aunts don’t, my grandma just got her permit to come, and my uncle doesn’t have one either.

I don’t cross. I haven’t ever been to Nuevo Laredo. My mom crosses to visit my grandma.

If Trump was president, I just don’t know; a lot of people would be pissed. A lot of people in Zapata are pissed, even people that do have papers or were born here, because everyone in Zapata or Laredo or just the border, has family there. If Trump became president it would be a whole war.

What people should know is that just because they’re coming from Mexico, it doesn’t mean they’re coming and asking for money. My uncle, who doesn’t have papers, is a supervisor at the oil rigs. My aunts in Victoria don’t have papers and they own three of the biggest restaurants in Victoria, Texas.”



“So i’ll admit I was sad when Bernie decided to drop out. Him endorsing Hillary… im still kinda weird about it. I do not want Trump to win, right now the world is really negative, its dark. With his racism and his rude comments. And last night, with the speech of his wife Melania, she did a speech about integrity… and the way it went down was the complete oppostie. And Pence is scary. To be honest, I think hes a little bit worse than trump. He has signed, for business not to allow Queer people to go in and out. He doesn't beleive in evolution, global warming or that smoking kills. And with those things ?!?! I'm already like NOPE. this man is crazy. All these things effect the border!

Number 1: We have a gay community, downtown, right next to the border. Its a small gay community, but we do have one. Bringing in more hate is gonna create more chaos. Like what happened with Orlando.

Number 2: The Wall !! thats gonna be horrible. My backyard is technically the river. Its awesome that you can see across the border. Like thats Mexico, this is Laredo, and literally two cultures are just hanging out doing the same things. Hanging out by the parks, and fishing at the same river. Downtown has a bad reputation already.. The wall would ruin it. I feel like it would look like a prison. Especially with our growing downtown area and the parks.. the parks probably wouldn’t exist anymore.

Number 3: There has been so many immigrants in my life that have helped me. Growing up I had a nanny, and she was from VeraCruz. She was just here working temporary, That woman is like another mother to me. Right now, there is a lot of violence going on in Mexico. I worry every day because I have a lot of family in Alcapulco. And thats one of the worst places right now with the drug cartel. I always think about them and their safety. They are stuck there, they have so many regulations, and if the USA goverment does pull security even tighter, when am I ever going to be able to see my family? I cant even go to Mexico anymore. The last time i went to Mexico I was 14. When I was young, I used to go every year to Alcapulco. But because of the Violence… Nobody in my family crosses. They dont cross and we dont either. I haven't seen them since I was 14."



“My family is split half in Mexico and half here in the United States. There is no reason why you should look down on us, but since we are all hispanic we are all targets.

I’ve always imagined myself in a big city, I want to move up north.I love travelling: I’ve been to Las Vegas, LA, New Orleans, Atlanta, Washington DC, and New York ,but its a small list compared to a lot of people.

I wanna prove people wrong about my narcolepsy. People think I’m limited to whatever I do because of it. And that’s why I want to travel.

People ask me if Laredo is so dangerous, but I don’t feel danger here.

Danger is everywhere, but it’s on another level on the other side of the border. Laredo is a good place to live in, a good place to settle down. Laredo has so much potential. Hopefully Trump doesn’t win.’’



“Right now, I am focused on school and doing the best I can academically. My job matters, because with my paycheque I’m able to help out in my house with expenses.

The border matters to me because my family and I happen to go over there for medical purposes, and most of my family live over there too.

If Trump is the next President, and a wall comes up and security at the border gets tighter? Well, first of all, this would become a problem for people who live on the Mexican side and cross everyday to come to school or work. I have familymembers who cross everyday for these reasons.

Everything will change. I don’t think I would feel safe, because Trump has some ideas and plans that would threaten the residency of my family, and there will be so many jobs taken away as well a decrease in education.

Honestly I would leave the border if I ever have an opportunity to do so, that will benefit me and the well being of my family, I won’t hesitate to leave.”



“I travel across a lot, but I don’t have a passport. I’m sure if things change with the new presidency, this is gonna be troublesome.

Not being able to go back and forth would impact me directly: I visit my grandparents and my uncles and aunts. I don’t have medical insurance, so i go to the doctor in Mexico a lot. It’s also the simple things, like buying Mexican food – avocados are really cheap over there.

The misconceptions of the border are that in every house is a drug dealer and every house is going have illegal immigrants. No, like, that’s not the case. I’m a U.S. citizen, I’m going to school here, I’m not a drug dealer.

I love living here. I would never leave, it’s just so convenient for me, I get the best of both worlds.”



“If Trump becomes president, it's going to effect Laredo a lot. Laredo has always been very, ‘Lets do things consisting of both sides!’, very Mexico and US sides together. Thats part of the beauty of it. The American side celebrates the Mexicans side independence day, Sept 16.  Downtown has so much to do with Mexico.  If you go and hang out you will see most of who is downtown is from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. A lot of the business owners cross to open their shops here every morning. They will tell you that they have a lot of family that shouldn’t be here, and it’s hard and how they are trying to get papers for their family.

I have a bunch of family in Mexico that comes and stays with us. I have a tia that owns a restaurant right on the other side. We want her to come live here but she says her roots are there and she will never leave. And yeah theres a lot of danger but I love going to Mexico, thats where my culture is. My family crosses for everything. I don’t have insurance here so I go to the Doctor over there. My mom always says that if she could she would be in Mexico. And I’m the same way, don’t tell me twice, I’ll stay. Make me move to Mexico and i’ll be happy. If your scared of everything, your never gonna do anything, so I make sure we go.

If I was to leave the border, I would end up in Mexico. I would end up on the other side of the border. We still do a lot of the things that Mexico does because the culture is so entangled here but its not the same to cross as it used to be. Now you need your passport to cross, if you don’t have it they pull you in and ask you all these questions and it's just getting harder and harder.”



“If the wall came up it would effect my boyfreinds family. His parents and his brother weren’t born here, only he was. That concerns me cuz dunno whats gonna happen to him. I don’t know if he would move to Mexico with his family.

Im still discovering myself. Im trying to figure out what I'm passionate about, if I can find that then I can find out maybe what I wanna do for work. Art interests me and opens me up a little but idunno yet. Im unsure what I wanna do after I graduate, Im interested in getting a masters but I dont know in what.

My main goal is LOVE. That's it. As cliche’ as that is. My siginificant other is my priority. I want a family, I want things I didn’t really have. There wasn’t affection that I wanted, So that's what I want.

I dont wanna leave Laredo cuz my family is here. I also wanna explore, but i dont wanna do it alone. My boyfreind has different priorities. His main goal is education. So hes going for his dreams, dunno what's gonna happen.

The border is not that bad. I still dont know spanish but i realize theres more things that i dontknow and i live here.”



“Personally, If Trump becomes president, my life wouldn’t change that much if he were to build a wall. Im not a person that goes across often or has family members that live over there. Im not around people that depend on family to come. But it would effect the city tremendously. You have a lot of people that come every day for work or for school. That would be so hard. Those that come illegaly to work, I know theres a lot of people with their visa's but they actually come to work and make their living. I wouldn't wanna be in their shoes.

Laredo would be effected tremendously. It would probably effect Laredo economically, people cross and buy their stuff here.  A big blow to Laredo. It would become one of those cities… that if you drive by and you blink.. you dont see it.

I think i will always stay relatviely close to the border. I wouldn’t feel comfortable anywhere else. And thats because of family and race. I have had some experiences with racism, but not full blown because of how we live here; its just so hispanic. I don’t wanna feel that, I always wanna feel welcome. So in that case, I’ll always stay within the border.

What is important to me right now, at my age, where i’m at, getting school done, getting a degree is a top priority. I need to set the foundation, my security for the kids, for the family in general. My kids are my number one on my Mama Bear list, and my husband; I need to maintain my relationship with him and God, and my grandma."



“All these potential changes to the border could have a big impact. We are talking about the wall coming up. Like me, personally, I’ll be fine. I can go back and forth as I want, thats my privilege of being an American. Most of my family lives in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, so we're talking about right across the border. And some of them actually struggle just coming to the United States just to pay a visit. It's not like they have a hidden agenda to come and make business over here, they just want to visit family for a day or two and then go back. That would get lost, in the future. I can always go visit them. But there are many who are not like me; they may not want to visit Nuevo Laredo because of the violence.

We are not talking about just my family or any one family.. we are talking about half of Laredo or more. That on it's own, changes the culture here. I don’t want to say that I’m completely proud of the culture we have here. But it is something so unique, so how could you want to lose it. And that's not only here in Laredo, thats border life, McAllen - all those other cities. Personally speaking, I can’t really tell you because for me, I can do whatever I want. I am really easy to adapt to changes. If it happens it happens, I don’t want it, but if it does it does.

The first 11 years of my life I was in Nuevo Laredo, Mex. I just immigrated here like 10yrs ago. I was born here in Laredo, but my parents are on the other side. I would consider leaving the border but it’s not linked to the violence or the lifestyle. I think for me it’s about trying to broaden my horizons. I am about to get married and me and my fiancé have been speaking about what we are going to do. Some people never get to leave the city. But for us, it's about experiencing more than we have here. Like I can’t say I want to go, but I definitely don’t want to stay.”





*The last two students were not available for interviews
*To see Anis Mojgani perform his HERE AM I poem, which I highly recommend.. click here


LETS CALL IT A COMEBACK.. by adriana monsalve

I've had this website for two years and have yet to post in 2016.   I've failed to be unapolagetically me in a lot of ways; maybe all the ways, since 2014.  Something traumatic happened (alto riesgo) and I closed and haven't opened since then.  I've opened on a one on one level but not on an artist level.  I've done the work but never shown it.  'Never,' seems the appropriate word since it's been two years that an audience has seen my work.  O i've been creating.  Now more than ever, I feel that I am a factory of sorts, pumping out stories to rapidly for even me to read.  I start stories and I put them down because they are only for me.  I start stories and forget about them cuz no one knows the half of it and I'm to tired to explain and the process seems endless but; now I'm here.   I am no longer alone with my stories and nostalgic for something else.   I have moved from the things that encircled me.  I guess, the best way to say it is that, I'm not afraid anymore: of myself, of others, of failures, of loneliness, of my camera, of my worth, of my body, of me.  

I've been a confident girl since 1983, so these past two years have been different.  To navigate the world questioning everything about myself has been a very real feeling.  You see most days, I feel as good about myself as I do about my art.  And if I'm creating things just for me, sometimes thats all I need.  But if I've been conserving all these ideas that turn into content for so long at some point... it begins to suffocate... the art and me.  Because although i don't prescribe to the idea of creating art for others or creating art for praise, I do prescribe to the idea of showing your art.  I have to show my work sometimes.. Because if I don't show it, it stops being important and starts feeling too personal.  And when things are labeled 'too personal', there goes the neighborhood.  The personal is everything: its political, its important, it's necessary, it's highs, it's lows, it's culture, it's chaos, it's love, it's loss.. it's what this world is made of, and rightly so, because without personal encounters I have nothing to shoot, no story to tell, not even my own. So why not show it? 

Every two years I meet myself anew.  I seem to transition and transform into someone with new idea, loves and actions.  These silent years have taught me many things in their suffocation: I've learned, if I do not allow myself the room to grow into these unfamiliar ideals this will happen again.  I have to question everything I knew before, I have to see it over and over again, until it is familiar and becomes my own.  I have to give myself the room to do so.  Because with growth comes new perspective.. and so although maybe the surroundings haven't changed, I have... and therefore, everything has.  

yeah.. So why not show it?
Why not share all the lawless and cryptic things that fill and destroy me most days.  

I owe myself an apology.  I am here now, and I am present, and hope to be for a long time.  I can't promise that I won't close again, but heres' to hoping.  But, if I do, I'll be more aware of what I am doing to myself and my art and to others.  

I have so much work to share.. I'm gonna start with one project/idea per week, and we will see how it goes from there.  I think its safe to call this a comeback...  and also safe to say I've forgiven myself.

start here: alto riesgo: a story about the middle

#SelfLove #TheRevolution

PADDLE AGAINST THE FLOW: Lessons On Life From Doers, Creators, And Cultural Rebels by adriana monsalve

I've been lost in time since it arrived.  This book is packed full of essential advice and motivation for the creative. Get your hands on this book and hold on tight until you've soaked up all this advice drenched in trail and error, courage, wisdom, failure, mistakes, fearlessness, and rule breaking.  Thank you Huck Magazine for creating something I needed. Congrats on your first book; timely and so necessary.  

an excerpt from Huck's publisher, Vince Medeiros:

“This book is dedicated to the millions out there who have thrown out the rulebook, defied authority, and challenged “the way things are” to dream and to try and make something different. The Huck Finns, Mos Defs, Spike Jonzes, Kim Gordons, Patti Smiths, Thoreaus, Zapatas, and Snowdens of the world. Everyone, really, who looked at the structure – restrictive, oppressive and full of shit – and thought, “Fuck this,” and instead chose to make it happen for themselves, refusing to be civilised while carving their own path to expression – and, ultimately, to freedom.

Have you ever paddled against the flow?

If so, this book’s for you.”

<3 Calle 13 by adriana monsalve

I've been on a Calle 13 overdose for a couple days.  I appreciate these stepbrothers and what they stand for... big love to PR :'')  I could be jamming so hard and 2 seconds later... sobbing.  The way he speaks of the Latin American struggle !!  Just so honest.  "Calle 13 is noted for its eclectic musical style, often using unconventional instrumentation in its music, which distances the group from the reggaeton genre. The band is also known for its satirical lyrics as well as social commentary about Latin American issues and culture. The stepbrothers are strong supporters of the Puerto Rican independence movement, a stance that has generated controversy."   ^_^  woooo

trust the process by adriana monsalve

I'm unsure what I'm writing because I'm unsure what I'm thinking.  I'm unsure what I'm thinking because I'm unsure what it's about.  I'm unsure what it's about because it's just the beginning.

I'm still new at this.  I've told stories with image and text, just text and just image but every time the process is new.  

I tend to think that the best way for me to do a project is to do the research first, then get the access, and then go shoot and interview and be inside. Then, after all that living and loving, i can come back home - wherever home may be at the moment - and edit and post process my images.  Then, finally I write.  The writing comes quick; a lot quicker than me.  I rarely know what is to come but somehow it flows. It flows from my unclear thoughts to my hurried fingers and down onto this white that magically fills with black.  

Im beginning to think that there is no wrong way to start a project.  I know that everyone does things differently but I guess I want myself to stick to one process, one way, one artistic routine because if its worked before than it should work again, right?

Unfortunately, I'm no good at routine.  So although in the depths of me I know what works for me, it does not seem to matter.  Because this brain inside this head will  wander off of straight paths and stumble into muddy waters and sometimes wild flowers.  It does not matter which comes first for they will both be examined.  They will both be experienced until they are my own observations, my own feelings and my own story.  

Last week I started a new project.  My research was close to none, my access was at 100%, and as for the images; I had been seeing them in my head for the past month.  It feels strange to chase after a story in this way because it feels less directed. Having an idea of imagery does not equate a story.  How can I tell a story if I'm unsure of what it's actually about..

Pep Bonet, is a seasoned photojournalist that works in this way.  He says you have to let the story tell itself.  Pep says, you should not go into a situation with ideas or else it messes up what is already there.  This works for him, it always has and it probably always will. When I first discovered photojournalism, I fell in love with him.  From his sense of improvisation to his gritty black and whites to his long Latin hair... He was everything I wanted to be at the age of 23.  Silly or not, I was attracted to all that freedom. 

At the age of 30, I know that this works for Pep and sometimes it works for me too.  I'm hoping this new project is one of those times..

Ill be in New York quite a bit this summer documenting the life and times of Michaela Angela Davis.  Excitement runs over and seeps inside my bones.  I do not take for granted time spent in the presence of a hero and what is quickly turning into a mentor.  She is dope and fly and a joy to photograph, but thats just the surface.  I have a slight idea of what this story could possibly be if I do it right.  But then again, what is right?  My slight idea will sit in silence.  It is after all, just the beginning..

June 2, 2014:&nbsp; Profiling on 47th

June 2, 2014: Profiling on 47th

woooo !! by adriana monsalve

Times and technologies are constantly changing, yet our human need to tell stories, remains the same. We are, after all, still the same social animals we were back on the primordial savannah. it is only the means we use to make the marks that bring us together that has changed.

that there are more of us around on this small blue planet means only that there are more stories to tell.

the iconic 1948 film by Jules Dassin, “the naked city”, inspired by the eponymous book by Weegee, concludes: ”there are eight million stories in the naked city. this has been one of them”.

go tell those stories, go tell your own stories.
— Bill Kouwenhoven