I would love to visit the Mexican Mennonite settlements sometime. It’s one of the last “plain places” that I haven’t been. Ironically the closest I’ve come to visiting them wasn’t near Mexico, it was near Aylmer, Ontario. That’s where there is a large population of Mennonites who have returned to Canada from Mexican and brought some of their customs and culture with them. As you all know, I am fascinated by plain communities and how they interact with the larger world around them. In Mexico you have a very different surrounding environment, one that is much harsher, yet the Mennonite settlements have generally thrived. The Amish have never been able to get a toehold in Mexico (not for lack of trying), but the Mennonites efforts have been more coordinated and concerted and that had made all the difference. How many of you have crossed over to Mexico on the northern border? Where did you cross? I would love to go…..Rachel and I were in Brownsville, Texas in 2010 to visit the Amish settlement near Beeville and we were right up against the border fence, but, alas, we didn’t go over (oh so close!). It just seemed too dangerous at the time with the reports coming out of the news media. We did get close enough for Rachel to snap this border patrol photo:) Ah, but that’s not the puzzling photo…more about those below…
The Mexican Mennonite settlements seem to have gained more prominence over the past couple of years. There was the movie “Silent Light” chronicling life in the Mexican Mennonite settlements that came out a couple of years ago. Has anyone seen that? What did you think of it? I’m not sure you could find that movie in Red Box:)
Mexican Mennonites are on my mind this morning because of a photo package Time Magazine is running right now chronicling the work of photographer Eunice Adorno. Adorno has released a book of her images shot in the Mexican Mennonite settlements. The book is entitled Las Mujeres Flores. I would love to get a copy of this book, her images seem so striking, relevant, and revealing. I can say, however, that as someone who has chronicled plain settlements for over 20 years I can’t imagine – even if they consented, which I am sure they did - photographing an Amish or Mennonite woman in her bra or without the kapp and publishing it (or taking it period). This is where I think some context would have been very helpful before Time Magazine just posted them. I’m guessing the book probably does give context, although I still can’t imagine any context where I’d do that.. I’m not being self-righteous, just my own comfort zone and my own experiences with the plain people. Of course, I’m a guy….but I’m trying to imagine a circumstance where I’d have one of the female photographers I have worked with capture that and I just can’t. So I’m curious about the context. Lest anyone think I am being unnecessarily sensational, I realize you can’t “see anything” in the photo and the woman is turned away, but I am still curious about context. Also, a photo with the kapp (head-covering) removed showing the beautiful tresses of hair tumbling down would seem to be a zone of privacy that I wouldn’t want to invade and publish. Again, without knowing more context it is tough to say. There were a few other “head-scratchers” in the collection, but there were also some beautiful, poignant and striking images. You can view the collection here. What do you think? Do you agree with me? Disagree?
And speaking of South Texas, we were at a state park in near the Rio Grande and were so lucky to see a bobcat and some bobcat kittens out in plain view (they had strayed out of their usually thick woods redoubts because of heavy flooding). Take a look at this photo Rachel captured…Mama Bobcat looking back at her kitten near the park gate: