Whether we admit it or not, all of us need a little bit of therapy every now and then. It could be to deal with a childhood trauma, the pressure of family life or just the daily grind of a demanding job. We may not see an actual therapist to work out these issues, but we deal with them in our own ways. Some of us eat, some drink, some exercise, some shop. Some, like photographer Steven C. De La Cruz, take photographs. His images have become physical manifestations of his issues, and the subjects bear the brunt of whatever kind of release he needs. It’s like pretending a pillow is someone you hate, and then punching it until you’re out of breath.
In his series “Within Plastic” Steven uses dolls to represent his feelings and visions. Sometimes this requires that he damages, or “injures” them to make his point. He attempts to bring them to life, and while creating these visual tableaus, he is working out his problems and making great photographs.
Steven C. De La Cruz will be exhibiting his series “Within Plastic” at Boulevard 3 this Friday, May 31 at 9:30PM.
What was the motivation for beginning a project like this?
I think it was my fear of models. Human, that is. I found that dolls were much more cooperative. This series started out as a class assignment. But, the results were so well received and I enjoyed the project so much, I was instantly obsessed.
What is the significance of using the dolls? What do they represent for you and what do you think they should represent to the audience?
It’s really about the challenge of bringing life to the doll. It’s amazing to me the effect that a simple turn of the head, arm or leg or the addition of a prop or animal can have on this one moment. One thing can change everything. The possibilities almost become overwhelming and then you have to decide which combination is the right one. Is this who he or she really is? And yes, at this point of the process I look at them as people. Which is why I rarely use the same doll twice. I feel they’ve already been given a specific identity and can only be used again if they are unrecognizable in the next one, taking on a whole new persona.
What they represent to me is therapy. Each one has it’s own release for me. Whether it be anxiety I needed to get out, frustration, joy… Some of them have to do with specific people coming in or out of my life, the things they’ve said, how I wish it could’ve been and so on. But, there is no puzzle for the audience to solve. It doesn’t have to represent to others what it represents to me. All I hope is that these images will offer some sort of release for the viewer. I want them to connect with the dolls in whatever way comes to naturally to them. Only then can they be truly appreciated.
Is this project complete? What have you learned about yourself during the process of working on this project?
I feel that this project has come to a comfortable, quiet drift. But, I don’t think it’s over. Visions still come into my head all the time. It’s just a matter of how inspired I am to actually execute them. Through this series, I’ve learned that I am constantly growing and changing… All of us are. It has helped me realize my mistakes, make better decisions and celebrate my successes. It has also saved me a ton of money in therapy bills.
What do you like or dislike about being a photographer and working in a city like Los Angeles? Do you think the environment of Los Angeles has an influence on you and your work?
As a photographer, Los Angeles can be very challenging. On one hand, it offers many more photography opportunities than a lot of other cities. On the other hand, it has that many more photographers because of it. People can be cutthroat. Especially commercial photographers. It’s constant marketing and strategy. How am I going to get that gig over this photographer? And even if you’re more “fine art” based, you still have to deal with everyone fighting for recognition. I imagine you’d find these hurdles in any photographic community, but L.A. offers these on a much larger scale. Although, to some degree, it has helped me stay true to myself and my own style…because I know I’ll never be the “other guy”. And I think in that way, I am growing as a photographer. I tend to steer clear from the dangerous current of “hustle and bustle” and try to just swim around it.
What’s next for you? What other projects or exhibitions do you have coming up?
I am currently working on a new project entitled “Bound”, a portrait series of sorts. Dolls aside, people are my true passion. This new series is allowing me to understand and appreciate them on a level I never have before. I won’t go anymore into detail, but, it has become quite the venture. It will be exhibited later this year.
“Within Plastic” at Boulevard 3
6523 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028
Friday, May 31st, 9:30PM
If you enjoyed this article, please click on the “Subscribe” button to receive email alerts when new articles are available. Follow on Twitter @Rebekahphoto.