Photography exhibit tells the stories of car culture in NM - Albuquerque Journal

Photography exhibit tells the stories of car culture in NM

“Con Confianza, Nathalia Florez” by Jessica Roybal. (Courtesy of Jessica Roybal)

Jessica Roybal captures images of daily life.

She’s often traveling through New Mexico chronicling these moments.

It’s lowrider culture that has her heart.

It’s also why Roybal teamed up with fellow photographer Kevin Beltran for “Rollin Forever,” which is on display at Lapis Room in Old Town through June 27. The Lapis Room will also have a Father’s Day reception from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, June 19.

Roybal and Beltran have complimentary styles and the gallery asked the pair to put on their own show.

Roybal grew up in Llano Quemado, a small community south of Taos. Meanwhile, Beltran was raised in Zuni Pueblo.

“We thought, ‘Why don’t we make some new content?’ ” she says. “For the last eight years, I’ve been chasing the lowrider scene. If I’m not on a cruise, I will be photographing the events. People have started to recognize who I am and they will let me get the shot.”

Roybal has earned a lot of trust in helping tell the people’s story within lowrider culture.

“They are so passionate about what they do with their investments,” she says. “It’s a cultural rich scene that we have. It spans across generations and it does become a family affair. This is something that we wanted to highlight in the show. It’s an art form that is passed through generations.”

“Across the Dash” by Kevin Beltran. (Courtesy of Kevin Beltran)

Roybal says her father used to have a yard full of Volkswagens and often used them for parts.

“Now that I’m older, I have a better appreciation for that work,” she says. “It’s also what has led me to chasing these cars.”

For the project, Roybal and Beltran interviewed 16 families.

The series was documented and assembled over a three-month timeframe as the pair traveled to Taos, Chimayó, Santa Fe, Bernalillo and Albuquerque. The approach to this project evolved with the meeting of new faces and a range of vehicle collections.

“Families invited us to their homes, shared their stories, and gave this series an unprecedented inside look rather than the common outside looking in perspective of a photographer,” Roybal says. “This body of work contains thousands of images. We both had to narrow it down to produce the show. There are seven images a piece from both of us.”

Roybal is hoping to have the show be a traveling exhibit in the future.

“There’s a sense of pride in each lowrider,” she says. “These are snapshots of the bigger picture that represents the culture.”

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