Mexico is so much more than the touristy noise of Cancun and Tulum. This beautiful country is as diverse as any nation gets, offering lush forests, scorched deserts, towering volcanoes, and beach oases. It’s definitely worthwhile to explore outside of the typical Mexican hotspots to see what life is really like here.
And Chicago-based photographer Kevin Serna did just that. In his stunning photography series, La Presa, Kevin spent seven years traveling back and forth to Mexico (2010-2017) to photograph a town named after his family: Presa de los Serna. It is here where Kevin’s father grew up before emigrating to the U.S.
In his statement on La Presa, Kevin notes:
“My father’s identity was shaped in a town called Presa de los Serna; his language, his values, and his expectations. My identity was shaped in a predominantly white suburban town outside of Chicago. I’ve always sensed our cultural differences and at times painfully so.
“With La Presa, I wanted to confront my relationship with my father through observation of the place where he solidified his identity in before immigrating to the U.S. during the late 70’s.
“In La Presa, we arrive in a small mountain town located in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Over the seven year span of this project, many of the photographs take place during an annual week long celebration of San Jose, the Father of Jesus.
“In these observations, my father is almost never directly photographed, but simply a character at the edge of the frame guiding me into the world I believe he truly inhabits. Through these photographs; mutual empathy and realizations emerge and the divide mends. This is how I am able to truly know my father.”
Presa de los Serna may seem like a middle-of-nowhere community when you look on the map, but don’t let that map fool you! This quaint place is right in the heart of traditional culture and history.
In fact, Presa de los Serna is less than a 30-minute drive from Calvillo, home to the ancient cave paintings of Tepozan, a 2-hour drive to the Sierra de Lobos, and an hour from beautiful Aguascalientes where the annual Calaveras Parade takes place.
But you know what sounds good to me? Sitting at the top of this small mountain town and watching as the sun goes down, while listening to the wild birds of the region.
Written by Rachel Ruiz; All Photography © Kevin Serna.
Presa de los Serna is in the beautiful state of Aguascalientes. This north-central Mexican state is rich in history and culture. But did you know it’s also home to picturesque vineyards that produce Syrah, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay? Hacienda de Las Letras offers tours around its vineyards as well as wine tastings, and lively festivals and events throughout the year.
Rachel Ruiz-Oakley is the Managing Editor of Slide Night.