Living Under the Trees documents the lives of communities of indigenous Mexican farm workers in California, through documentary photography and the narrative experiences of community residents and leaders. The exhibition includes 36 large color photographs, which document work and community life. Six panels of oral histories present voices of migrants themselves, describing their experiences, telling their stories, and making suggestions for policies to promote their culture and welfare.
The photographs show the conditions of indigenous farm worker communities, including: housing problems, especially for migrants and new arrivals and families struggling with lack of space, and hard working conditions. But they also demonstrate that these communities are developing a vibrant culture of music, dance, food and healthcare, which reinforce their ability to survive under difficult circumstances and to enjoy life in spite of them.
The projectís purpose is to win public support for policies supporting those communities by: putting a human face on conditions, and providing a forum in which people speak for themselves. It focuses especially on indigenous social movements.
The communities documented are located in San Diego, Coachella, Arvin, Oxnard and Santa Paula, Santa Maria, Fresno and Selma, Salinas and Greenfield, Santa Rosa, Fairfield and Corning. They include Mixtecos, Triquis, Zapotecos, Chatinos, and Purepechas. They also include farm workers who donít self-identify as members of indigenous communities, but who live and work in similar conditions.
The photographs are digital color images, which focus on the relationship between community residents and their surroundings, and their relations with each other. They present situations of extreme poverty, but they also show people as actors, capable of changing conditions, organizing themselves, and making critical decisions.
In the text panels, community residents tell stories which convey the quality of life of each individual, and a sense of their cultural values. They describe social organizations that exist in indigenous migrant communities, and the way migrants see the broader community in which they live.
David Bacon, photographer