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Spotlight: Andrea Fernandez Captures Womanhood, Ascending

By David Schonauer   Monday July 15, 2019


By profession, Andrea Fernández is a dentist.

Her avocation is photography, which she took up at age 15, when her father gave her his Olympus camera as a gift. “I have been taking photos for around 23 years,” says Fernández, who was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and now lives in New York City.

A few years ago, Fernández was traveling through Italy and was struck by the beauty of baroque-style fresco ceilings. “I love the use of space, tension, and connection that the figures depict as they are ‘ascending to heaven,’” she says. Inspired by the frescos, she decided to begin a series of images capturing human figures from the same perspective. The creative challenge: How do you get people to fly around above you?

Fernández’s solution was to shoot underwater, with her subjects floating rather than flying above.

“The characters in my photos are connected by water and reflect themes of family, motherhood, relationships  and sense of purpose,” Fernández says. The work will be on view at the Olivie Ponce gallery in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn beginning on July 29.

“The Ascendents” was also named a winner of the Latin American Fotografía 7 competition.

Fernandez faced another type of challenge when she conceived the series — ones that had to do with water, not creativity.

“When I was growing up I was afraid of the water, so I didn’t learn how to swim properly and I was afraid of going into deep water,” she says. “I had to take lessons in 2017 in New York with a teacher who specializes in teaching adults how to swim.” Thus, her project had an unexpected side benefit:  “It was great to conquer my fear and use my new skill in my creative project,” she adds.

Yet another problem arose as Fernández began working out details for producing the series. “Believe it or not, not knowing how to swim wasn’t the biggest challenge,” she says. “The biggest challenge has been finding private pools where I could take the photos. I have been looking for long time for an available pool in New York City, but it has been impossible. So I decide to go Los Angeles and Long Island.”

Fernández shot her first batch of images for the project in Hampton Bays, Long Island, in September 2017. A year later, in October 2018, she shot another set in Los Angeles. The photographs were taken with an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II camera with an Ikelite underwater camera housing.

“I usually take individual and group portraits underwater and then compose the photos in postproduction in Photoshop,” says Fernández.

See more at Andrea Fernández's website.

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