Guatemala: People of Tradition

In Guatemala: People of Tradition, photographer Santiago Albert and editor Christine Wilson give us the gift of a Guatemala that reflects the contemplative aspect of this holiday season. Without the noise of vibrant color, the focus turns from the pageantry of feasts and fiestas to the quiet of inward reflection, perfectly demonstrated by black and white photographs. We see the young boy carrying the man-sized anda in a La Antigua Guatemala Lenten procession, and his need to reach for inner strength. We see candlelight reflect peace in an Esquipulas cave dedicated to the Black Christ. We feel the seriousness of an Olintepeque offering to king San Pascual, venerated by the K’iche’ as holy death.

In Guatemala: People of Tradition, we see the depth of feeling, reverence and respect that has created the colorful outward pageantry that identifies Guatemala to the rest of the world.

Santiago Albert, Spanish by birth and adopted by Guatemala 15 years ago, brings us this uniquely intimate view of his fellow citizens. His photographs are taken with a small Leica M with standard lenses, which necessitates that he be within a few feet of his subject. This actual physical closeness intensifies the sense of intimacy felt by the viewer.

The collaboration between Santiago and Christine began several years ago when they produced Portraits of Quality for Anacafe’, the Guatemalan coffee growers’ association. Santiago’s black and white photographs show the viewer the men and women, often worn from sun and work, who farm the fields and run the coffee mills. Christine’s written descriptions of the subjects and the coffee-growing process fill out the picture.

Other Latin American photojournalism by Santiago has included his documentation of the Warao tribe in the Orinoco River delta, as well as the lives of Guatemalan refugees returning home from Mexico. An exhibit of selected images from Guatemala: People of Tradition has been shown at the Museo Ixchel del traje indigena and is scheduled for exhibition at Hotel Casa Santo Domingo, La Antigua Guatemala, in 2012. Watch Revue’s Datebook for this upcoming event.

Christine Wilson is Guatemalan by birth, and her love of her country and its traditions are reflected in Guatemala: People of Tradition. A member of the founding board of the Antigua International School, Christine is donating her proceeds from the book to the scholarship fund of AIS. Christine is married to Phillip Wilson, director of Ecofiltro, a sustainable water purification solution with the goal of providing abundant clean water at low cost.

Guatemala: People of Tradition, available in both English and Spanish editions, is a hardcover book of 280 pages, with 100 images. It may be purchased at La Casa del Conde, 5a avenida norte #4, and at Colibri, 4a calle oriente #3-B, both in Antigua; in Guatemala City the book is available at the Museo Ixchel, 6ta calle final z. 10.

You can also buy copies online by going to www.peopleoftradition.com. The website is available in English and Spanish.

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