Centering narratives that have been previously marginalized has become more important than ever.
Noé Montes was born in Modesto, CA, in 1973. He grew up in a family of migrant farm workers that traveled up and down California’s Central Valley following harvests. After high school, he worked briefly in the field of electronics before finding the medium of photography. Around the same time, with the goal of helping other people, he began working with numerous local community organizations. Over the last twenty-five years, Noé has developed a socially engaged practice in which he creates documentary work around a specific social issue or geographic location. He then uses that work as a tool for community and civic engagement, combined with programming from local partners. He also works to integrate the stories of the communities he documents into the American historical narrative.
“I am an artist, photographer, educator and advocate based in Los Angeles. My work takes the form of long-term photo documentary projects around themes of social justice. My process begins with identifying an issue, then doing research and field work around the theme of the project, for a period of time between six months and two years. The body of work that results from this is comprised of photographs, writing, audio interviews and sometimes video. This body of work is then used in a series of workshops, events and community dialogues to educate residents about the issue. Recently I have worked on projects about leadership in the farm worker community, the economy of small, rural towns in California and the impact of air pollution on the residents of the Inland Empire.
My work is designed to help people from underserved, low income communities gain their agency so that they in turn can help others. I am deeply invested in using photography, as a practice and as data set, for community education. I find it the most effective way to learn about my community and myself. I try to practice photography consciously; I keep in mind the question of what kind of society the work that I create is helping to shape.”
On display at Helms Design Center for one week beginning 9.11.20
All artwork is copyrighted work of the artist. All rights reserved. Images not to be used without permission.