About Esmeralda Ruiz
I grew up in a small art studio in San Fernando Valley where my parents would surround me with art books, a large variety of paints and ceramic sculptures. It wasn’t a normal childhood to say the least, but it was the beginning of my artistic journey.
Having my parents be part of a small area of the art world exposed me to the business side of being an artist. My father first purchased a Hasselblad when reproductions were becoming popular. He believed that this was the next step for our business to take. As soon as he bought this camera he made me its keeper. The owner of one of the most expensive cameras my father had ever purchased.
To this day, his words as he handed it over to me still echo in my mind:
“A camera is a tool that you can use to capture the world around you. Just remember you are the voice behind the lens.” – Leon F. Ruiz
Overwhelmed by the body and price of this camera I decided to use my father’s old 35 mm Nikon cameras for my high school assignments. These were the cameras that my dad used when he was in college and would be what taught me the basics of photography. However, the Hasselblad would only be used to photograph paintings for our reproduction purposes.
My family’s business hired a photographer in order to teach me how to scan, use Photoshop and print. They were intensive sessions where my skills in reproducing my family’s work would be honed. Without knowing it my artistic career was beginning right before my very eyes. Like most people, learning these new skills did not come easy. Especially since I was going from shooting black and white 35mm film to color medium format images.
Having the unique opportunity to grow up around artists who sold their work professionally, I was fortunate enough to pick up another art form; the art of the sell. A regular part of our routine was to present our work at different art shows every weekend. This exposed me to all sorts of different art styles as well as being able to meet the artists behind the work. Many of the artists were close and with time became an integral part of my life; as if they were family.
Senior year high school I applied to the BFA Photography degree program at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Not only did I fall in love with the University, I had a soft spot for the city as well. Mainly because it had so much to offer when it came to art galleries and museums. In four years, I completed my BFA in Fine Art Photography but quickly decided to continue my education by enrolling back into the University’s MFA program. Within two years, my goal to complete the program was accomplished.
About Esmeralda’s images –
My childhood was different then most. Growing up with nothing but artists was one thing, but having actually flat lined during a surgery after being diagnosed with a kidney infection changed my life forever. It wasn’t that it left me weak or prevented me from going outside and playing or even going to school with other children but the images that I saw when that moment occurred is what I strive to show in my work today.
A wonderful world where the air was crisp and refreshing, with all of its flowers in bloom, my journey begins down a path with little yellow homes on each side. Beyond the path, a valley flowers appeared. On the right there were rocky mountains so enormous that clouds covered their midsection with their snow covered summits peering through. To my left the sound of the ocean was relentlessly crashing into a cliff. As I crossed my valley of flowers and ascended the cliff, I felt a cool yet, strong breeze off the ocean forcing me back. As I looked up into the vast skies above, I was overcome by the ever so omnipotent clouds with their glorious rays of sunlight beaming through. The feeling of leaping into the breeze and flying towards the light was more then overwhelming. Instead, I greeted it with a smile and made my way back to the valley. Relaxed, laying across its delicate wild flowers, my tranquil body curled up and fell into a deep sleep. Awaking to my mother at my bedside, disappointment overcame me with the realization that it was all just a dream.
Weeks passed, the pain healed but my dream still reigned true. Numerous sketches and endless rants of my new world was all that was real. Having to transition from a world of such perfection to a life of obscurity seemed almost inconceivable. As such, a minor state of depression would set in as my life slowly began to drift back into its regular routine.
During this time my only solace came from the amazing work found in books from various art movements and even my favorite childhood cartoons. However, as my healing process dragged on, much of what I know about color (and how I use it today) came from all the extra time spent in my parent’s studio. Watching them work and being surrounded by various mediums helped better understand art as a form of expression. This would inevitably forge my desire to show the world what I had experienced on that fateful day.
As the years pass, my dream still lives within me. My thesis project has only driven my need to share my moment with the world in ways I never thought possible.
After much soul searching and numerous critiques, I have come to the realization that my utopia isn’t just a dream; it is in the landscapes that have always surrounded me.
Those three minutes had and will always have a tremendous impact on my life. If anything, I learned how fragile life is and to always appreciate the beautiful things in life. Photography has allowed me to show what stands out in my eyes by glorifying it in a photograph. It is the best way that I can communicate what I saw and what I felt at that particular moment. It is the bridge between my past and my present.
Going through a kidney removal surgery at such a young age shaped the rest of my life and made me see things through a filter. My images are details of this world created to show what I saw when I flat lined as a child. Weightlessness and immense freedom overwhelmed these magical places. With minimal compositions, use of color and soft light I am able to share this emotional journey.
For a closer look at Esmeralda’s work please visit her website.
images shown (top to bottom) – Precariousness, Radiance, Searching, Daydreamer, Lifeline.