Rocio de Alba is a conceptual documentary photographer and artist based in Queens, New York. Rocio earned a BFA from The School of Visual Arts. She is an award winning book designer and photography instructor. She was a grant winner of the Queens...
In this slowly developing series, I apply macro compositions and multimedia principles to chronicle my journey towards “radical acceptance of death.” Enlisting scientific and academic approaches, I embark on this cathartic endeavor by adopting ideologies from renowned theologians, philosophers, and contemporary artists actively pursuing healthy dialogues that attempt to shift society’s adverse perceptions of death.
In this quest I found peace by discovering that although end of life is inevitable, multiple components of my body are slowly dying the longer I live! This revelation commenced a healing process that further arouse my intrigue with self-portraiture. Unlike my previous projects however, in this series, I combine engaging and inviting colors with brazen images of my naked body – often in states of extreme grotesque - to document the physical transition organically produced by aging. Working against male-dominant history of idealized female nude portraits, my images denounce marginalized dialogues about body shame and middle aged women.
To further convey my concept, I print my images on digital film I then transfer onto a pork gelatin marble fresco that is embedded on top of 20x24" Medex wood panel substrates. Due to its propensity to mold, the founders of this fresco add a food preservative called Agar-Agar. If not for this additive, the images would fade away and the gelatin would decay. My decision to employ this digital alchemy further negates society's obsession with youth, and our tenacity to defy that which is destined to expire.
Beautifully Grotesque, 2018 I was a late bloomer and a scrawny kid. When my breast grew-in, they were perky but very small. Everynight, I prayed for larger breast. In my twenties I vowed to get implants but could not afford them. When I became premenopausal, I gained a ton of weight and my breast grew twice their size. Though society may reference them as 'imperfections,' touching my rolls and heavy breasts sexually arouse me. For the first time, after decades of wishing I was different, I achieved an unyielding love for my body.
Botox Fail, 2021 As a light skinned Latina, other Latinos mistake me for a 'white girl'. Some said the only dead give-away were my full lips. When a woman reaches middle age, it is medically common for her lips to thin. Concerned the only attribute identifying me as Hispanic was fading, I had botox injected in my lips. unfortunately, I developed an infection that almost disfigured them.
Generation Mountain, 2019 My great-grandmother, grandmother, and my mother all developed painful bunions, which is hereditary as I have begun to develop it myself. My great-grandma and grandmother passed away in El Salvador with severely disfigured feet. Two decades ago, my mother underwent corrective surgery in California. My insurance will not cover the same procedure until this condition becomes unbearably painful.
Perspective I always adored my pot belly. However, at nineteen, my very first boyfriend described it as a negative attribute. This started my battle with bulimia that ended in my late thirties. As a result of this extreme weight gain and loss, compiled with three full term pregnancies, my stomach skin sags and is riddled with stretch marks. The older I get, the more pronounce these become. A couple of years ago, I was on a date with a man who pursued me aggressively. On our third date, he took me to restaurant on the beach. As the waiter pulled my chair, the wind blew my silk blouse over my face revealing my stomach. I didn't hear from him again,
The Incredible Disappearing Woman When I was in my teens and twenties, everytime I walked about the streets, men would shout-out cat calls or pull their cars over to ask me out on dates. Now, as I stroll about window shopping or on my many travels around the world, neither of those things happen. I feel as if I have become invisible to men.
Never Hide Your Smile SInce I can remember, I received compliments on my smile. When I moved to New York for art school, my coffee intake increased and I became a smoker. Now, most of my front teeth are yellow or decaying so I began to place my hands over my mouth whenever I smile. One day a childhood friend I had not seen in years noticed this new habit and reprimanded me. I have made great stride in breaking my embarrassment towards my aging teeth.
Broken Wax Promises, 2019 My father was a very hairy man. Of all places, I inherited his hairiness in my arms. I was a true daddy's girl so he adored this attribute of mine, and often combed my arm hair with his hands. When we immigrated to California from El Salvador and I began to attend school, two American girls mocked me. I have shaved religiously since.
Liver Spot Canyon, 2019 I always wanted a mole on the side of my upper lip, similar to those sexy models and movies stars have. In 2019, I noticed moles developing in various areas of my body. None have grown on my upper lip.