Grantee:  Cara Romero
Native Citizenship:  Chemehuevi
Location:  Santa Fe, N.M.
Award:  2017 NACF Mentor Artist Fellowship
Discipline:  Contemporary Visual Arts, Photography
Web Site:

Cara Romero spent several years diversifying and refining her artistic technique. Not until she went to school for commercial photography did she then gain the sophisticated viable skills to take her contemporary work to the fine art museum level. Her award-winning photographs are stylistically-diverse narratives that are a testament to her well-rounded and proficient understanding of contemporary Native American photography. Strongly valuing authenticity in her work, Cara Romero’s photographs offer viewers a new way of seeing Native American pop culture that counterpoints existing stereotypes that are still frequently perpetuated in modern culture’s media, education, and art.

Cara Romero is eager to impart her years of photographic study and professional experience through key mentor lessons. She is dedicated to mentoring an apprentice in how to tell stories through photography that relate true experiences, and express an authentic, first person perspective in the fast-growing field of contemporary Native American photography. She is particularly focused on intensifying the critical content and visual dialogue, quality, and professionalism of a Native American apprentice photographer.

Romero and her apprentice, Leah Rose Kolakowski (Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa), will collaborate in a concentrated hands-on learning environment, working directly in her studio and at on-location shoots. She will teach her apprentice high-level and various photography techniques that heighten visual and narrative quality, substance, and analytical depth in the apprentice’s work. Romero plans for her apprentice to gain not only the technical skills needed to produce their own works, but the confidence to evolve her skills further into her own distinguishing style.

This [2017 NACF Mentor Artist Fellowship] is an incredible opportunity for me to be able to teach someone, to impart some great stuff to someone who may not have had the opportunity, especially in Indian Country. I also believe that Indian Country has such a wealth of content to offer photography.
~ Cara Romero

Mentor and Apprentice Joint Art Project: 

Cara Romero and Leah Rose Kolakowski worked together to create six new Native American female fine-art photographic portraits, some of which have been exhibited in museums, galleries, and art markets in the U.S.. Also, under Romero’s guidance, Kolakowski prepared for and exhibited for the first time at the 2017 Santa Fe Indian Art Market, where she received a ribbon for her work.