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NY Times portfolio review–Ruth Prieto


Safe Heaven is a photography project about Mexican women who have settled down in New York City and have formed new roots, traditions and lifestyles. It is a new way of looking at immigration using color as a unifying metaphor of diversity and acceptance. Each woman will be identified with a color palette so that a mosaic of color represents diversity. I am presenting the lives of Juanita in yellow, Delia’s in blue and Sabel in green.

Homes have deep emotional meaning. Through their homes we get to know them, their motivations, their thoughts and aspirations along with the conditions they live in that reveal how much they have achieved and struggled. They have painted and decorated their rooms according to their own personal story and choice. I am exploring the notion of safety and confidence in relation to space.

With these images I want to present different moments in what could be a person’s story. My motivation for this project is to create a dialogue about migration and xenophobia to develop solutions related to social issues. Through these images I go beyond the public scenario offering a deeper knowledge of the living conditions of one of the major labor forces in the US. Furthermore I want to communicate on a level that is common to all: the bittersweet journey of life in which moments of struggle and joy take place.

This project is an extraordinary window into the live of Mexican immigrant women who are masters of their own world, where they can control their time and their choices, where they have a safe heaven. 

I began this project with the curiosity to understand the process that Mexican migrants go through after crossing the border. Being Mexican myself, allowed me to form a bond with my subjects so that we could build a connection that translates into the intimacy of my images. I am focused on women because of their central role in the development of the Mexican family and because I look at them as icons of identity and culture. Moreover, I think it is important to create projects that motivate a dialogue about migration and xenophobia to develop solutions on current social related issues.

Ruth Prieto Arenas was born and raised in Mexico City. She studied Communications and worked as a junior account executive in visual media. She was an intern in the cultural research department at Magnum photos in New York in 2011. 
Ruth graduated from the program in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism at the International Center of Photography in 2012.

Currently she keeps developing her project with the support of the Emergency Fund from Magnum Foundation.

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