Los Angeles-based artist and archivist Guadalupe Rosales investigates collective histories within Latinx youth culture in Southern California. Since 2015, she has been building an archive of photographs and ephemera, mainly from the 1980s and 1990s, but sometimes dating back much earlier, giving a voice to communities often underrepresented in official archives and public memory.
After living away from Los Angeles for a few years, Guadalupe began investigating her cousin’s gang-related death⎯a traumatizing event that contributed to her moving⎯as well as revisiting her experiences growing up in her native city. Along the way, she realized how important physical materials are in preserving memories and telling stories. Her Instagram project began with sharing her own personal photos from growing up in the Boyle Heights neighborhood in the 1990s, soon inviting people to submit their own histories to the feed.
You have been building an archive of vernacular photographs and ephemera connected to the Latinx culture in Los Angeles for a few years now. How did this project come to be and what was your initial idea behind it?
This is a complex question because it’s not like the project has a beginning, although it does. I was living in New York for quite some time. I left Los Angeles in 2000 after years of grieving my cousin’s death and, most importantly, after seeing the pain it caused my family, especially my older sister. When I moved to New York, I knew nothing about that city. I left LA not knowing where I’d end up. I had never traveled this far and on my own. I also disconnected myself from LA, whatever that meant at the time, but still held on to memories of growing up In Los Angeles.