Carina A. del Rosario
Born in the Philippines, Carina A. del Rosario immigrated to the United States as a young girl. She earned her B.A. in Communication from Santa Clara University in 1991. She has studied photography with Magnum Photographer Alex Webb, Rebecca Norris Webb, Raul Touzon, and Eddie Soloway, and she has been mentored by numerous visual artists in Seattle. Her photographic work has been exhibited in galleries and museums and mounted as public installations in the Pacific Northwest, and is in the collections of King County 4Culture, the City of Kent, and Asian Counseling and Referral Service. In addition to her own creative and documentary projects, she is a teaching artist and helps youth use visual arts and digital media to explore their communities, advocate for what matters for them, and express their own experiences. She collaborates with non-profit organizations and educational institutions to help illustrate issues such as poverty, education, health, and civil rights. She also founded the International District Engaged in Arts (IDEA) Odyssey, a collective that promotes cultural diversity, community development, and economic prosperity in Seattle’s International District/Chinatown neighborhood through visual arts. In 2013, the International Examiner honored her with a Community Voice Award for Individual Artist.
Portrait by Zorn B. Taylor.
Race/ethnicity is a complicated construct as it is. Combine that with gender identity, gender expression and sexuality, immigration status, and other categories, one can be left entangled by labels and expectations, subjected to many forms of discrimination, struggling to be whole.
In my own attempts at connecting to different parts of me, I have documented many communities’ fights for civil and human rights, for social justice. I’ve worked with immigrants and refugees, various coalitions of people of color, low-income communities, queer and transgender folks.* My work with trans folks has been especially powerful because they embody this struggle and resistance to be pigeonholed. Every day, transgender people are forced to choose male or female. They must always consider the possibility of harassment, discrimination, and violence when doing the most basic things, whether it’s going to the restroom or filling out an application.
In this series, I worked with a variety of people to create “passports.” I reframed typical application questions and invited them to provide answers, not by checking a box, but by using their own words to describe the most important parts of themselves. Together, we express our shared hope for the time when we are not limited and fragmented by categories, when can all be free to be our whole selves.
*Transgender, gender queer or gender variant people are individuals who cannot or choose not to conform to societal gender norms based upon their physical or birth sex. Some undertake medical or surgical procedures to embody their gender identity. For others, their gender expression primarily involves a social change (e.g., name, visual presentation).