Zarita Zevallos is New York-based architect and photographer. However, everything that makes her who she is comes from Haiti, her native country. Zevallos uses her craft to capture injustices and break the system.
When did you discover your passion for photography?
I always wanted to throw myself into photography because my father always carried his vintage AE-1 Canon camera around to document our childhood. It’s thanks to him that we have so many memories to look back on. This stuck with me and when photography was trending again, I decided to get my first digital camera back in 2015 , I think.
What message do you wish to convey through your photographs?
The messages I try to convey to the public are usually connected to injustice. Things that are happening right under our noses, as a people but mostly as black people; how we are suffering to still break out of systematic slavery. I talk about issues within our own communities such as colorism and classism.
I know that my voice alone cannot break the system or incite a revolution, but maybe my expression of art will inspire someone else from which will create a ripple of artists engaging in change.
What’s the creative process like for you?
I usually get my ideas from what is happening around me or my thoughts on topics that haven’t been spoken enough about or challenged. Most of the work happens after my photoshoots; the post-production is where my hardest work lies. I create a relationship between a material and the concept and I tie them together for a stronger expression.
How has living in America allowed you to grow your talent and explore different possibilities?
Living in America has influenced my personality and therefore my work has been forced to become something other than it would have been if I had stayed in Haiti. I’ve met different types of people, I’ve accepted different mindsets, I’ve experienced, learned and opened my mind to so much more than I ever expected I would.
My talent grew as much as I have and the platforms that were given to me allowed me to freely express that growth. These small and big platforms bring people towards me who have similar feelings or appreciation for art that is quite different than typical portraiture. All of these are ripples of blessings and possibilities because America allows the free spirit to explore even though many criticize. Regardless, both are needed in art and growth.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
My immediate surroundings or what’s happening in the world to a specific community, my thoughts and opinions on articles/books I read or movies I watch.
As long as I feel it’s an interesting conversation to have with others, I will bring it up in my work.
Knowing everything you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self?
That it’s okay to not relate to everyone around you and not to let it get under your skin.
How has your work enriched your life?
It really is a matter of perspective; what we see as ‘enriched’. I very much stay away from the social media hype and the number of followers etc.. because these create a false sense of success. In my personal perspective, I’ve had the opportunity to meet deeply rooted artists from around the world who admire what I do because they want to change the systematic injustice around the world. In this manner of seeing riches, I’ve been blessed to help others and be helped to move closer to one of my goals every day.