At the start of his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump insisted that “when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best.”
Those words, along with many other comments about the people of Mexico and minorities around the world, have shocked many.
They’ve also inspired one man to set out and capture the beauty of Mexico and its people on camera.
New York-based photographer Omar Robles embarked on a 13-day excursion to Mexico City in October, inspired by Trump’s words and aiming to shine a more positive light on the country. Working in partnership with FujiFilm he connected with powerful and talented local dancers across the city, a follow up to his beautiful portraits in Cuba earlier this year.
As he reflected in his blog post, Robles had the chance to witness Mexico City “celebrate the joy of living by honoring those who walked with them” during their Day of the Dead celebrations. Amidst the vibrant colors of the city and bold personalities of the residents, he was struck by how gracious and genuine the people he encountered were.
“The rhetoric that permeates our times is sadly about division and segregation,” he wrote. “The warmth with which the people of Mexico received me and the dancers as we shot along the streets truly inspired me.”
While he photographed dancers in the streets many onlookers offered ovations. “They clapped and cheered for the dancers after we were finished shooting,” he wrote, noting that he often receives much colder reactions while photographing in New York.
“People [in New York] often pass us by, perhaps softly shaking their heads producing a chuckle spiced with a slight hint of cynicism,” he wrote. In Mexico City, “I was not just creating photographs,” he said, “I was producing a privileged moment in time for those around us.”
The photographer told Mashable he feels art is extremely important in the world, especially during tough times when acceptance is challenged.
“Art inherently is a instrument of expression,” he said. “Thus, in times when voices are at risk of being silenced, its more important than ever to use every tool at our disposal to make ourselves heard.”
“Art forms like photography and dance, due to their visual nature, easily transcend language barriers,” and help people communicate universally, he said.
Robles visited Cuba last March, where he also met and photographed inspirational local dancers.
To get a deeper look at Robles’s time in Mexico City, check out his stunning behind-the-scenes footage.