Woman in Light centers on Hasnija, the wife of my building’s superintendent. The immigration of her and her family to the United States, along with her life over the pandemic, have been the study of this project. I spoke with Merima, her fourth and youngest daughter, to develop an understanding of her family’s living situation during and after quarantine. Merima is the only American citizen in her family, and the first to attend college. During COVID, the owner of the building asked her family to move to the basement. I originally was hoping to analyze and convey the development of relationships after almost a year of self-quarantine; however, I realize now that my photos of Hasnija and her home speak more to reflection and inner solitude. This woman is surrounded by countless obstacles in her quality of life, her development as a mother, wife, and individual, and the love that she feels and receives. Through this project, I attempt to impart the beauty of strangers, as it is elusive and distant. I also seek to highlight the aspects of living that familiarize all people, regardless of the superficial disparities which exist. This vision has developed into an exploration and connection with the deeper and arcane beauty of my collaborators. Where I started in the basement of my building, I have reached the sunlight and open air.
Lorca Peña Nissenblatt is currently a high school junior living in New York City. Since her childhood, she has been encouraged to pursue artistic creation and engage herself with both music and literature. Through her studies, Lorca has developed and gained interest in writing, film, music, and photography. In January of 2021, Lorca began studying photography through the Studio Museum in Harlem, and she currently studies at the International Center of Photography. Over the pandemic, Lorca has been able to rely on photography as a source of self-awareness. It allows her to convey her perceptions in a manner unlike any other medium. Her art is emotion-based, ever-present, and ever-elusive. Lorca’s photography strives towards lacing together her understanding of portraiture and documentary as she aims to immortalize people and the commodities of their existence. Through her imagemaking, she has attempted to expand upon concepts such as self-awareness, observation of others, and the intimacy of people. Recently, Lorca has moved towards the exploration of small-scale photojournalism, as that kind of journalism regards the lives of strangers, the struggles of those strangers, and the contrast between their lives and her own.