My mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent her first chemotherapy treatment on Monday 3.3.14. I visited her on Wednesday, taking vegetables and a juicer, dinner, and my cameras. We’ve never been the type to get too deep into the underworkings of our emotions, but as I prepared a cucumber/spinach/pear juice for her, she gave me the details of how her battle with cancer would unfold within the next two weeks. She brought out a box of wigs with smile, saying she went shopping for some accessories since her hair will be gone by the time I see her again. Casually, I laughed – inwardly, a memory painfully surfaced. That of my mother as she elegantly curled and brushed her hair into a magnificent sculpture, slipped into a dress, and became a queen. I realized the enormity of how our worlds were shifting – how past and future were interacting in a quantum dance. And now, I begin documenting her journey so that it becomes mine as well.
Project: “Warning” Featuring Xelina Flores for Poet Laureate Film Project
Director: Daniela Riojas
Producer: Daniela Riojas
Designer: Daniela Riojas
Director of Photography: Marvin Jimenez
Music Composer: Alex Paul Scheel (of Pop Pistol)
Lead Actress: Xelina Flores
On making the piece: Working on this video piece for “Warning,” a poem by Carmen Tafolla, has become a gratifying encounter with San Antonio’s cultural consciousness. Her poems exemplify the richness, livelihood, and sometimes saddening historical context that makes us more aware of our current placement in the world. “Warning,” though short, is packed with truth about the marginalized “Texan Indian,” searching for pieces of the earth that make him whole. I chose the female lead character, ritualizing and protesting, as a way to diversify the same emotional weight within dual contexts.
Journal notes: Saturday, January 25th was the most major date on my calendar this month. I’d been in pre-production for about 3 weeks preparing all props and set design for this video. My vision of it required a sort of spiritual journey of my own and I took to using my hands to make the sacred, ceremonial objects that would be used and worn in the video. The energy I put into this process was exhausting but well-worth it considering the outcome. Also, to my special privilege, Xelina Flores agreed to play the lead role and she did an absolutely perfect job! Despite the chilly weather and her getting a pretty severe cut on her ankle during the last scene of shooting, Xelina was a champ and created an entire character with her powerful aura. It was also my first time working with Marvin Jimenez, who brought along his Canon c100 Cinema Camera (the camera I’d be dying to use for this production), and with a wide array of rigs and lenses that were making me salivate. All in the all, the experience was superb!
The final video will be screened in March at SaySi at a commemorative celebration for San Antonio’s Poet Laureate, Carmen TaFolla. Keep yourself updated on my events webpage.
Here are a few stills and behind the scenes from that day and well as progress shots of the props:
“Born and raised in Eagle Pass, TX, this week’s show features visual artist and singer, Daniela Riojas, who will be talking about her latests projects. As a multi-faceted artist, spotlighted in San Antonio’s creative world, we’ll look into her process and the lifestyle of wearing multiple hats in a city fighting for its name in the entertainment world. Daniela is trotting along an unbeaten path of the Riverwalk, off Broadway, through Midtown, defining her talents through music, film, and art – which is the essence of Los Artists. Listen to this sultry, well-versed, and always quirky conversation with Daniela Riojas.” – Miguel Garcia
Hear the full interview: On Blog Talk Radio