Celdas by Alma Leiva

Alma Leiva is a Honduran born artist, who moved to the United States at the age of fourteen. She has studied both a Bachelors and Masters in Fine Art and has exhibited her work internationally and across the US and has been featured by many publications.

Her work, ‘Celdas’, seeks to address the experience of fear, alienation and displacement suffered by Hondurans as a consequence of the violence that has taken over much of the Central American region. And as undocumented immigrants in contemporary United States.

Hi Alma, your series ‘Celdas’ (Prison cells) are sets you have created, talk us through what goes into creating one of these rooms?

This is a research-based series that examines the violence and limitations bestowed upon Central Americans in their homeland and as undocumented immigrants in the U.S. In order to convey the sense of displacement that newly arrived immigrants experience, I travel throughout the U.S. where I gather local elements such as soil, rocks, grass, leaves and various other materials to construct the settings, which are informed by specific acts of violence. I work with found materials and often incorporate photos of the victims that present the viewer with a narrative of the crime site or allegories to the crime within the domestic context. I incorporate Hand-made Mayan stencils (sometimes using newspaper) and catholic iconography, which allude to colonialism and the history of violence that predates the conquest. In Celda #11 and Celda #13, I engaged in obsessive production of paper planes and flowers to fill the spaces, to recall coping mechanisms within the violent context. Between research and production and documentation of the work it often takes me 3-6 weeks to complete the tableau (it can vary depending on the complexity of the work), which I photograph using 120 color film with one image as the final product.

To read the full interview, please visit the World Photography Organisation website.

The World Photography Organisation produces a series of exclusive interviews with the winners of The Fence annually.