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Manuel Ortiz

10″ x 8″ (4 prints)
8″ x 10″ (8 prints)

Remembrance x Acceptance is a self-portrait and still life photography series that centers around what growing up as a burn survivor has meant to me. My accident happened in October of 2004; I was 8 years old. In the sixteen years since my accident, I have gone through a lot both physically and emotionally. Now at 24, I wanted to look back at these years to find where I stand in terms of my identity, bring some measure of closure to this part of my life, and accept who I have become.

I spent most of my childhood having countless surgeries. Old hospital discharge forms and patient wristbands serve as reminders of that time. The memory of the operating room lights I saw during surgery while being put to sleep became burned in my mind. I developed a fear and hatred of anesthesia; every time I see an anesthesia mask, my mind freezes as I remember each and every time I was put under.

For the longest time, I felt trapped behind an invisible curtain, my defense mechanism restraining all of my emotions. I was afraid to look at myself in the mirror and see what I had become. As time passed, I slowly began to break through the curtain and look, really look, at my face, the scars throughout my body, and my mutilated hands. It has not been easy. To this day some frustration remains.

I hate my hands. I love my hands. Thanks to these hands, I have made it this far as an artist and designer. I am Manuel Ortiz; I am a burn survivor; I have accepted what I have become.

I am living.