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James Drake
Charlotte Jackson Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Recommendation by Amanda Malloy


James Drake, "The Lengua of Nahuatl," 2015, charcoal, ink, graphite, collaged photos on paper, 82 x 162" diptych

Continuing through June 30, 2019

Twenty years ago James Drake spent time filming and photographing transgender sex workers living and working in Ciudad Juarez on the border across from El Paso, where Drake lives. These images documented intimate experiences of everyday life, in a world many of us know little about. Drake has re-interpreted those earlier photographs into a new body of work, “Que Linda la Brisa.”

Arrows are incorporated in much of the work in “Que Linda la Brisa,” leading the eye several different directions, and rarely in a straight line. They lead us through text, figurative drawings based on the original photographs, as well as the photographs themselves. By combining so many different elements on a variety of mediums, Drake’s work cannot be easily pigeonholed. It is not purely drawing, collage, photography, or poetry. By blurring the lines of categorization of his work, Drake further emphasizes the multiplicities of his subjects. Basic categories of identity — male/female, Mexican/American — become disrupted and complex. This is meant to complicate us, to leave us in a different place than where we started. What carries the most weight in these pieces are the figures the artist has drawn. They are beautifully drafted, honestly expressed, and remind us that no matter how many different directions these issues may take us, they are fundamentally about people.


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