Carles-Tolra’s series, “The Bears,” explores stereotypes behind Brown women’s rugby team
By Agnes Chan, Contributing Writer
For Alejandra Carles-Tolra, photography transforms the world into a theater. It immerses her in otherwise distant cultures and environments, granting her the capacity to capture the story behind an individual’s identity within a two-dimensional space. In her latest series of photographs, “The Bears,” Carles-Tolra simultaneously pursues her fascination with individuals who share a strong group identity and discovers what it would be like to be part of an American university’s sports team: the Brown women’s rugby team.
“The Bears,” which was on display at the Chazan Family Gallery at Rhode Island College from Jan. 28 to Feb. 27, captures the many dualities found in women’s rugby: violence and grace, weakness and strength, masculinity and femininity. Through her photography, Carles-Tolra questions stereotypes of the “rugby girl,” revealing that traditional perceptions of the team as masculine and strong do not necessarily define the individuals within it, many of whom are not just “rugby girls” when taken out of the group context. While Carles-Tolra was exposed to photography from a young age through her father, she only began considering it as a career when studying at the University of Barcelona, she said. As a sociology major, she chose to use photography as a tool to conduct and present her research, she said.