Cecilia Portal

I grew up in Havana, Cuba, in a sheltered, middle-class family of Spanish immigrants. I remember Cuba as a visual experience: white buildings, blue ocean and sky, lush green mango groves, white Panama hats. My family left Cuba soon after Castro took power.First, we migrated to the racially segregated North Carolina, and the shock was so profound that after only one year, my father decided to move the family to Mexico, a Spanish-speaking, Catholic country. We drove to Mexico City, a car full of adults and children searching for our place in the world. As a young woman in Mexico City I worked concurrently as a freelance photographer and a nurse, professions that informed each other in unexpected ways. I photographed for clients in medical, dental, architectural, product, and scientific settings. As a nurse I learned to closely observe sthe patient’s breathing, color, and movements. I applied that skill in making portraits, and as my perception expanded I became aware of the pain of humanity and its joy. In my artistic work, I tried to capture aspects of the human condition and its tension of opposites, from jubilant parade dancers to a child snake charmer to elderly blind men gathering on a park bench. Mexico’s visual vibrancy and compelling subject matter made composition easy; to get good images, all I needed is a camera, an educated eye, and clarity of my pursuit.


Immigration / Emigration 2015/2016




Albuquerque, NM USA