Arboles Urbanos is an investigative and creative response to living in downtown Puebla, Mexico. (I taught at the Universidad Iberoamericana and lived in Puebla for just under six months via USAC.)
Within the urban core, a debate rages over urban forestry. Slowly, unequivocally, urban trees are being removed or denied care. In some cases, homeowners or business owners care for the trees, pruning, watering, and painting the trunks to avoid insect infections. People within most colonias (communities within the cental urban area) assume, predicatably, that this is the city's responsibility.
Utility companies demand that trees are regularly pollarded, which is a threat to their survival. The city bus company wants trees trimmed as the streets are one-way, narrow, and the buses need a clear path. Many trees are regularly assaulted and do not survive, and the vestige trunks are silent memorials to the ravages of confusing jurisdictional authority. Those trees that survive are symbols or hope, of shade, of color, of living gracefully within concrete and rock streets and buildings.
This project arose after three months of research: I have catalogued nearly four square miles of the urban core, encompassed by the streets 11 Sur and 11 Norte (to the west), and 20 Poniente and 20 Oriente (to the north), 25 Poniente and 25 Oriente (to the south), and 10 Sur and 10 Norte (to the east). This is cartographically the Centro Histórico for Puebla. While most of these areas are already depleted of trees, there are sufficient examples to develop a representative selection for the Suite of Twenty-six.
The photographs are printed using archival inks on Fine Art Hahnamuhle watercolor paper, and the portfolio case is hand-made to exacting, archival standards. The inaugural exhibit of this suite of twenty-six photographs will occur during 2009-2010 at the Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura de Puebla ~ Galerias del Palacia in Puebla, Mexico.