About the artist:
Photographer and visual artist Isabel Herrera depicts the kind of truth found only in dreams. Raised in Guatemala City, she’s known for her ethereal instant photography and surreal compositions made from Polaroid emulsion lifts applied to various fabrics and metals. She is attuned to life’s uncertainties—a subject she often explores in her work. Her photos seem to evoke both stillness and imminent action simultaneously: words not yet said, changes waiting to happen. “There’s a harmony that exists in this world,” she says, “whether I pay attention to it or not.”
In 2016, Herrera survived a near-fatal car accident that marked a major shift in her approach to life: She began to live more fully, exhibit more regularly, and connect with a global community of Polaroid artists who share her passion for the medium. “Instant photography slows me down. And so many things happen that I don’t expect: discolorations, little surprises. But those mistakes are what make the final image significant or valuable to me.” Herrera’s work has been exhibited at Guatemala’s Sol del Rio Contemporary Art Gallery, Juannio’s annual Contemporary Latin American Art Auction, and international instant photography festivals in Germany, France, Italy, and the UK.
I create art in order to fulfill two opposing needs: to withdraw from the mundane tasks of daily life and commune with a higher realm, and to connect with the strange and beautiful nature of the world around me. In both these acts, I encounter myself.
Through instant photography and the endless possibilities of emulsion lifting, my work explores the ephemeral and the instantaneous: the immediate magic of now that disappears just as quickly as it arrives. None of these moments will ever return. I use my work to embrace the uncertainty of this moment, just before it changes into something else. Like waves or clouds, there’s a liquidity to living, an ongoing process of connection and change that I try to capture in its many different shapes and forms.
I’m drawn to the hazy, vintage images produced by instant cameras, shooting whatever strikes me with my Polaroid SX70 or my Mint SLR670-S in both color and black and white. But the initial shot is just the beginning: I never know how the final image will turn out, and I’m usually surprised by the tiny mistakes and chemical changes that make each photo, like each moment, completely, beautifully unique. I often transfer imagery across several different media before the work is complete.
Instant photography has taught me to examine the outside world alongside my own internal depths, to get comfortable in the ambiguity that hovers between. I see my work as an act of exploration, a process of finding and revealing hidden truths in the ambiguity of our fictions and dreams. I see life’s inescapable changes as opportunities: Why pretend like we know everything? What else is there that we can’t yet see?