Julianna in her bedroom at home in Grants, New Mexico.
little joy in these photos, but the complexity of the emotions they portray gives them a haunting quality, and we get a sense of the subjects’ humanity. Blazquez shows us their fragility as well as their strength, and these people become more to us than mere drug users captured on camera. Their backstories are hinted at in their gazes, and we find ourselves mourning their wasted talents while celebrating their efforts to get and stay clean in an environment that encourages relapse and despair. “I don’t tell my subjects to make any particular facial expressions or to smile,” he says. “I mainly want to capture their stares, so I just tell them to look directly into the lens. If they want to smile that’s up to them, but 99 percent of the time they don’t. I think that neutral glance, that default
stare, is really who they are. They’re giving me what they want to give rather than my dictating what to do.” What began as an exercise turned into the exhibition Barrios de Nuevo Mexico: Southwest Stories of Vindication, which has been displayed at a number of galleries and museums, including solo exhibitions for the Historic Santa Fe Foundation at El Zaguán on Canyon Road and Secret Gallery at 505 Central in Albuquerque, as well as a group show at the History Colorado Center in Denver. Blazquez treats all of his subjects with respect, and he pays them for allowing him to photograph them for his project. He speaks of them with an understanding born of their shared struggles with addiction; his approach is never judgmental or disapproving. “I’m honored and