Guadalupe Rosales is a Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary artist, photographer, archivist, scholar, and educator. She is known for her community-generated archival projects whose work celebrates the subculture of Los Angeles in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. Rosales mostly focuses on California Latina women through snapshots on her two digital archives accessible through Instagram: “Veterans and Rucas” and “Map Pointz.” These online archives extend an open invitation to various Latino communities to share personal images and create visual narratives that showcase their subcultures.
Raised in East Los Angeles, Rosales moved to New York City in 2000 when she was almost 20 years old, four years after one of her cousins was stabbed to death at a supposed peace party between gangs in 1996. In New York she had little more than a stack of wallet-sized photos to remind her of home. Those photos of family members and friends were taken in the “glamour-shots style” of hazy filters and diffused lighting. However, after 15 years in New York and after coming out as a lesbian, she returned to L.A.
Rosales’ photography is pensive; she mostly shoots nocturnal photos to capture the essence of the night. Her work is rooted in found objects, old magazines, flyers, photographs, vintage clothing, and ephemera from Los Angeles in the ‘90s. “The work that I’ve been doing as an artist always comes back to belonging and memory.” She returns every year to sites in Los Angeles that have special significance for her, such as the place where her cousin was killed or the place where she was when she heard the news.
By presenting texts of personal narratives next to her images, her work engages in storytelling about Latino youth culture in L.A. and Southern California. Although her images seem to look like a documentary, she prefers to think of them as abstractions. “I may keep coming back to these locations and photographing but the abstraction is that I may not get the answer that I’m looking for . . Am I even looking for an answer?”
Rosales collaborated with Dallas-based lowrider artist Lokey Calderon to create an immersive work at the Dallas Museum of Art which showcases the lowrider culture of car riding with added sound to replicate the experience of cruising in East LA.
Rosales received her M.F.A. from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2016 and was the 2019 recipient of a Gordon Parks Foundation fellowship. In 2020, she was a USA Artist Award fellow.
Rosales’ work was shown at the Whitney Biennial 2022. She has lectured in museums and institutions including UCLA, the Getty Museum, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Yale University, and New York University, among others. Her forthcoming book will be released in 2023 by One Word, Penguin Random House Publishing.