In 2011, I travelled to Medellin, Colombia. For eight days, I lived in Pedregal, a maximum-security women’s prison where the vast majority of women I met were serving sentences for drug trafficking or drug related crimes. While there, I taught photography to twelve of the women who were incarcerated and later curated an exhibition of their work at both Pedregal and the Paul Bardwell Gallery in Medellin. In January of 2013, I returned to Colombia to continue my work with the women at Pedregal, the family members on the outside, and to document the stories of those who have been effected by the cocaine industry. I returned because I believe that in order to understand the depth and impact of a problem as large as the cocaine industry, we need to understand the communities and networks it impacts. We must speak with the women and families who have lost their land to drug wars and to the children who have lost their parents. My work at Pedregal is ongoing and I hope to return soon.
In 2011, I received a grant co-sponsored by the United States Embassy to teach photography to youth in Medellin and create an installation based on the UN Declaration of Children’s Rights. During this time, I also received an opportunity to teach photography to women at Pedregal, a maximum security prison in Medellin, Colombia. I choose to live at the prison for one week while teaching photography and documenting the lives of the women I met. In January 2013, I returned to Colombia to continue my work, which focused on ways to improve community opinion, as a whole, of the incarcerated.