Our Oaxaca. Photos © Tim Porter & Lori Barra
Our Oaxaca. Photos © Tim Porter & Lori Barra

Lori Barra & Tim Porter: Our Oaxaca

October 18, 2019 – January 24, 2020
Artists’ Reception: November 9, 2019, from 7–9PM

The Image Flow proudly presents Our Oaxaca, a two-person exhibition featuring the work of Lori Barra and Tim Porter both Marin County photographers documenting children and families in Oaxaca, Mexico.

All of the proceeds raised during this exhibition will go directly to the families photographed in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Limited edition prints will be available for sale, and additional donations will be gratefully accepted.

Exhibition Statement

Mary Ellen Mark brought us together at a workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico. Through her we became friends. Because of her, we became better photographers. With her in mind, we return to Oaxaca – to pursue the work we started, to nurture the relationships we’ve made with local mothers and fathers and children, to become the photographers she believed we could be, to honor her passion and, perhaps, to find hope and inspiration in it.
More than anything else, Mary Ellen believed in the potency of the singular image. “I like a picture to stand out individually, to work on its own,” she said. “… It’s hard. If you get a couple of good pictures a year, you’re doing very well. It’s hard to get a great picture. Really hard. The more you work at it, the more you realize how hard it is.”
As a photographer, Mary Ellen embraced relentless authenticity. As a friend, she wrapped us in generosity. As a teacher, she demanded much and encouraged even more.
Mary Ellen held her students to the same lofty standards by which she lived. Two years before her death in 2015, she told an interviewer who had asked how her photography had evolved during her 40-year career. “I’m not sure it has changed that much,” she answered. “… I’m still just trying to make powerful and truthful photographs — great photographs. Perhaps my standards are higher. I’m less satisfied with what I do. I want to go further. Reach further.”
Go further. Seek truth. Be honest. These were Mary Ellen’s qualities – as a photographer and as a person – and these are the characteristics by which she judged her work and to which she urged us to aspire.
Come celebrate Lori and Tim’s artful collection of prints at our artists’ reception on Saturday, November 9, 2019, from 7–9PM.
RSVP catering will be serving light appetizers and wine.
On view through January 24, 2020.

Tim Porter

Across the Threshold

At first, Oaxaca was a place to make photographs, and perhaps recapture what I had lost when I turned my back on photography for journalism. After a few years, though, I crossed a threshold and became more than a photographer. I am still American. That cannot be erased, but I am changed by the people who have opened their lives to me, welcoming me as a stranger, feeding me, and tolerating my gringoisms.
Visit by visit, they became family, the daughters and grandchildren and neighbors I don’t have. I talked more, photographed less. I often got very sad when I left because I wanted so much for the children, more than my shallow savings could give. What I had was time, so I gave them that – and lots of photographs.
They sensed the change. I’m sure they wondered for a long time why I just kept showing up, but after a while they didn’t. I don’t know exactly how they see me, but I know that I am no longer a stranger. I am someone more familiar, someone who crossed the threshold.

Lori Barra

Ten years ago, for my 50th birthday, I treated myself to a 10-day workshop in Oaxaca with my photography hero, Mary Ellen Mark. The experience changed my life.
Knowing I care deeply about the wellbeing and empowerment of women and children, she sent me to orphanages, to schools for deaf children and for those with Down Syndrome, and to a home for children whose mothers work the streets. My life has been nourished by my relationships with the people I met there, and I have returned every year. Many of the children and their caregivers have become family to me.
I am particularly fascinated by children and the complexity and beauty of childhood. Children tend to be open, curious and honest; they haven’t yet built stories around who they are. I try to capture their authentic selves, and I am honored when they allow me into their hearts, their homes, and their private worlds. When the camera is in my hands and I am inches from someone’s face, I welcome the intimacy and connection. They are my teachers, bestowing lessons in humility, generosity, kindness, resiliency, and trust.

Past Exhibitions