Painting Images from His Childhood
I received an email from Federico Correa on May 2, 2014 telling me that he had found this photo of himself while searching the internet about farm labor. Federico Correa’s journey from child migrant farm worker to artist is a fascinating story. Federico wrote:
“I was born in Salinas and raised in Soledad. …I was reading about farm workers…child labor in particular….when I came across my picture..and my cousin…”harvesting carrots”. It was so long ago…. I do remember when the picture was taken….I am beyond surprised.“
I wrote back asking him permission to use his words in this blog post and sent him a high resolution copy of the photo without watermarks to have for himself. He agreed and went on to say:
“I have faint memory of a man coming up and asking if it was OK for him to take a picture of us working. I remember him saying we were doing something very important. My cousin and I chuckled….we were just “topping carrots” nothing extraordinary. We were paid 28 cents a sack. “Carrot season” was a welcomed time/season from the more arduous work like picking tomatoes and/or thinning lettuce with the short handle. The ground near Soledad ….surrounding Nuestra Senora de Soledad Mission was soft and sandy.”
My father, Harvey Richards, exercised the same respect for child farm workers that he did for everyone. He asked permission to photograph them and then told them they were doing something very important. This approach shows itself in the special character of the images he left us which capture such unique moments of our past with the feelings of deep humanism that run throughout everything in the Harvey Richards Media Archive.
I asked Federico if he was the one in the photo with the jacket on. He replied:
“Yes…..I am wearing the sharp-looking jacket. Needless to say..I am still in awe to have found that picture. All I was doing was search on the Braceros Program……then that lead me onto the topic of farm workers ..then subsequently lead me to child labor in the fields.”
Today, Federico is an artist living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, with an exhibit of his art in the Instituto Bellas Artes in San Miguel. Federico wrote,
“The exhibition opened on April 24 and will be up until July 14. It is titled “Demonios Internos”. Many of the images selected are from my personal sketchbooks that allude to, or reference my early childhood experiences in Soledad. To exhibit at Bellas Artes….which is part of the national museum system here in Mexico is quite an honor for me. It is a place where great Mexican masters such as David Alfaro Siquieros taught art.”
His story made the Salinas newspaper, the Californian, recently (April 17, 2014) where they quote Federico saying “Salinas Valley is a big part of my work. I have … visual vignettes of growing up in Soledad“
Thank you, Federico, for sharing your story with me and with those who are reading this post.