Johnathan Morales

fragile little thing

Two years ago at an obscure Long Island restaurant, I was introduced to a sister I didn’t know I had. At four years old she was brought up from South America to live with my father in the States. She spoke no English and I spoke very little Spanish; I found myself struggling to connect with her. As my longing to understand my sister overwhelmed me, I turned to photography to process the situation and overcome the barrier that separated us.

Understanding my sister’s identity and what is shaping how she views herself in these formative years of her life became an important point of discussion for me and how I would continue to photograph her. Through her objects, color and role-play, I attempt to document and conceive of my sister’s identity in relation to her surroundings. This may be the result of consumer items, family members or an ingrained culture she is subjected to on a daily basis. Girlhood is a period of self-expression that may or may not come to define how young girls perceive themselves in their futures. It encompasses all aspects of daily life, the boundary between an adult world and a child’s world continually on the precipice. Thus, photographing my sister presently was crucial.

My photographs represent a world filled with imagination, a life rife with possibilities; however, they depict a fleeting moment as a disquieting element lies in the backdrop of the work itself. Themes such as gender conformities as well as cultural and familial dynamics come to embody the work. As I yearn for my sister to stay in her youthful bliss I ask myself, will my sister follow down the path prescribed to her or will she be free to forge her own existence unencumbered by cultural and familial constraints?