Darkroom: A Memoir in Black & White is primarily about immigration and race, but it’s also about a shy girl who arrives in America knowing no English. She grows up in a house where Argentine culture is kept alive through food, music and letters from the home country. I’m that shy young girl. For me, the cultural clash was short-lived. I adapted to the language and customs of America, although I never could swallow the racial attitudes of the Deep South. My discomfort with these segregationist views grew as the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum and eventually encroached upon our lives through controversy, violence and the urgent need to take a stand. This is the story I relate in Darkroom.
Darkroom was years in the making. It contains over 500 individual drawings. I often used a digital collage method to layer images and text.
Here are some sample pages that demonstrate my technique and offer previews of the content. Farther down this page, catch a glimpse of my source materials. Click on images for a magnified view.
Source materials for Darkroom include tons of family memorabilia and wide-ranging books, articles and films on the Civil Rights Movement. Remember, you can click on each image for a magnified view.
My father’s Argentine ID booklet from his teenage years and my childhood passport both make an appearance in the pages of Darkroom. I loved drawing the tiniest details in these old documents.
When you have a photographer in the family, you’re overrun with photos. How lucky for me, because they proved immensely valuable for creating a visual chronicle of my family’s journey. This photo, taken at a book event, shows a tiny sample of my vast collection. Below the string of photos, a monitor plays the Civil Rights march footage that father shot in 1965. You can see the entire footage under the Videos tab.
Once I got started on writing and drawing my memoir, I returned to my hometown of Marion, Alabama, multiple times to photograph landmarks. This collage connects some of the photos I took with the bird’s-eye view of the town square that I drew for Chapter 8 in Darkroom.
It took a great deal of research to patch together the current events of my childhood. In particular, I soaked up as much history of the Civil Rights Movement as I could. One of the rediscoveries I made was the racist Alabama history textbook that I studied in the 4th grade and which I recreated fDarkroom.