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Photography exhibit features black roller skaters in California

California photographer Alejandro Sanchez documented the black roller skating community in Southern California. (Courtesy of Alejandaro Sanchez)

It’s been a dozen years since Alejandro Sanchez was introduced to the black roller skating community in California by one of his students.

This first trip changed his trajectory as a photographer.

“I went with my student to the rink and was blown away,” Sanchez says. “I’ve played hockey all my life. When I got there, I only had my hockey roller skates. The vibe was nice and it’s that community thing. Space is sacred.

Seventeen of Sanchez’s works will be exhibited at Foto Forum Santa Fe beginning Friday, March 11. There will be an opening reception from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The exhibition will continue until May 25.

Sanchez has spent the better part of a decade documenting the black roller skating community in Los Angeles.

California photographer Alejandro Sanchez documented the black roller skating community in Southern California. (Courtesy of Alejandaro Sanchez)

He says it was important to document it because the community has faced rinks forced to close due to gentrification.

Sanchez says the series began in 2014 after World on Wheels in Los Angeles closed in 2013 after being open for more than three decades, and Skate Depot in Cerritos, California was about to close due of the non-renewal of their lease after having been opened. for 34 years.

“Once those rinks closed, the community had to start looking for a new place to skate in SoCal,” he says. “These spaces created a community and it was taken away from them. There were roller rinks in the Inland Empire and that’s a driving force for many people who participate in them. It’s a sad situation. »

Sanchez says skaters have run into difficulty because “micro” wheels – or small fiberglass wheels used for sliding – are banned at some rinks to discourage an audience they say is unsuitable.

California photographer Alejandro Sanchez documented the black roller skating community in Southern California. (Courtesy of Alejandaro Sanchez)

With roller rinks having a long history in the black community of serving as a safe haven, as well as an outlet for entertainment, Sanchez wanted to capture the community.

“I hope an audience can see the value of space and community,” Sanchez says. “It goes beyond rollerblading. A space can change a community or the way the community sees itself. Lack of access to a space can harm a community.