Vuelta y Descanso: A Journey in Capturing the Beauty in the Mundane

January 30, 2023

Oscar Lopez (He/Him/His)  is a recent Government and Canfield Business Honors graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. In 2019, he was named a Google Public Policy Fellow where he worked on issues concerning broadband access, data privacy, and net neutrality. In 2020, Oscar worked as a Policy Fellow with Next Century Cities where he researched the effects of the digital divide on low-income and marginalized communities. During the spring of 2022, Oscar worked on federal climate policy as a White House Council on Environmental Quality intern.

As an artist, Oscar is currently developing a new photography project as an Artist in Residence at the Daphne Art Foundation. He is also working to alleviate food deserts in his hometown as a member of the Laredo Food Policy Council. A native of South Texas, Oscar is proud to be a fronterizo. 

This story took place in United States

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Last month, my debut photography show, “Vuelta y Descanso,” opened at the Laredo Center for the Arts through their ArtCouch program. As a lifelong artist, having my work in a gallery that I had come to love and admire was a dream come true. Since its creation, the Laredo Center for the Arts has worked tirelessly to elevate the voices and art of fronterizos – a term for individuals who are from the U.S.-Mexico border.

After the show opened, I took a moment to reflect on what my journey as an artist had looked like, and what my work meant to me. A few years back, having come back to my hometown from a particularly hectic semester of college, I reflected on how the strings of my life had woven themselves up to this point. I was about to turn 20, realizing that the idealistic glow of my youth was fading and a matured pragmatism was taking its place. The pressures of the career hustle and a requirement for perfection had taken their toll, I had come close to burning out. 

I’d grown up an artist, having played cello and guitar for much of my youth. Art soon gave way to a greater focus on academic pursuits and I’d forgotten the vital place a creative outlet had played in my life. Having started shooting photography just a year prior to my return home, I thought it might be a good way to rekindle my artistic pursuits.

My photography focuses on capturing the beauty in the mundane. Documenting, for permanent record, the everyday moments that truly give life its melody. My work forced me to slow down in a time when few other things could have convinced me to do so. It reminded me of the beauty in the smallest moments of life: the way the sunlight reflected off the petals of the bougainvillea in my backyard, the lighter-colored patch of grass at a park where an elderly couple had sat down for their weekly picnic. Having started my work in my early 20’s, I sought to capture what this oftentimes confusing yet exhilarating time really felt like. 

My photography became an outlet for documenting this time. Photos from my exhibit capture party-goers at an arts festival in Edinburgh, friendships soon to be separated by distance post-graduation, and entry-level professionals heading to their first days of work. 

These pictures in my exhibition are a reflection of my early 20s thus far, a celebration of the chaos and excitement associated with this time, and a reminder to appreciate the mundanity of life. Now, as I navigate my 20s (rarely without my camera by my side), I seek to appreciate the beauty in our everyday life. My work challenges me to slow down and appreciate the symphony of life rather than the fast-paced metronome that may seem to command it.   

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