Helga Sierra
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Journal: Stories on Creativity & Adventure

Learn about the artist's process, photo stories, traveling & more. 

Discovering Home: Comayagüela

 Formerly the Police Station of Comayaguela). 

Formerly the Police Station of Comayaguela). 

Here's what the process of inspiration looks like in my life (all I need is a camera)

I've been home for exactly 7 months, which means I left Nashville 10 months ago...what?! I have this thing where I'll remember random dates and days, anyways...adjusting to life back in Honduras has been hard at times...I have lived a life with certain freedoms that crash with the reality that I'm in (reverse culture shock is real). Last fall, I spent 3 months in Europe where I discovered that my creative process in painting was directly related to walking around with my camera.  I haven't been able to do that in Tegucigalpa, because walking around with a nice DSLR camera or my iPhone draws too much attention.

Don't get me wrong there are parts of the city that are safe (where I spend most days), but still it's not advisable (maybe just a little bit stupid) to carry these objects around.  I've also had several photo-shoot jobs where I've gotten to take pictures, however there is something special about just walking around and observing life. 

my first "photo-exploring" adventure in my own city.  

 Institutions...

Institutions...

 Chamomile Cart

Chamomile Cart

 Market Stands & a Dog

Market Stands & a Dog

 Photographers. 

Photographers. 

Last Saturday I went on a Photo-Tour of Comayagüela, an event hosted by the Center for Art & Culture of the National University (CAC-UNAH)....we were escorted by 2 soldiers and several museum guides and proceeded to hear about old theaters & spaces in Comayagüela. There was around 30 people with cameras taking pictures.  If you've ever traveled & you see a group of Asians on a tour bus, they all walk around with their nice camaras- this is what we looked like...

 Hidden theater in Comayagua.  (I had no idea this existed). 

Hidden theater in Comayagua.  (I had no idea this existed). 

 Churros. 

Churros. 

Tegucigalpa is actually composed of 2 cities,  Comayagüela used to be the thriving part back when my grandparents were starting their lives as adults.  Today this side of the city has more people who live in poverty than not.  So here are more scenes of Comayagüela and thoughts that have been in my head since last Saturday. 

What I discovered as I explored Comayagüela is nothing new.

I am aware I lead a very privileged life in Tegucigalpa.  That does not stop me from noticing the discrepancies in lifestyles.  You see I have no problem with buying a $2 coffee in many of the coffee shops around town. I actually go quite often as I work free-lance, am always looking for a good internet connection and have a coffee addiction. However, I don't post the pictures of food or coffee I eat, because I have personal friends who I know can sometimes struggle with daily meals (posting that on social media doesn't feel right). ( I'm actually going to write a post about coffee sometime soon simply because I do have all those pictures)

The average Honduran lives on less than $2 a day. 

Dude. 

People live on Less than $2 a day.

 A girl and her mom. 

A girl and her mom. 

The average "private" taxi ride costs $5...

Fact: our economy is broken...and only a select few can lead "decent" lives...the barriers of creating change for generations are massive barriers. 

Let me put it this way. This means people have to eat, move, pay their housing, etc. on less than $2 (L.50) a day... or $100 a month... and here I am spending $2 a day on coffee no problem.    (Here's a Netflix documentary on some guys who went from the US to  Guatemala and experienced living on less than $2 a day). 

 Fruit Cart...

Fruit Cart...

I've learned to not guilt trip myself into feeling bad about my coffee spending,

but just like I took pictures of wonderful dreamy streets in Europe, I am taking pictures of a different reality (a reality that is actually more common throughout the world). I sell artwork that is very expensive, and somehow here I am trying to join all things that I am passionate about to maybe create some sort of change in the world. 

 
 Banadesa, Bank.

Banadesa, Bank.

 
 

Dream Big.

Start small.

Think Long.

From The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson 

 
 Dream. A new friend. 2 soldiers who escorted the group. 

Dream. A new friend. 2 soldiers who escorted the group. 

  Fellow photographer , who let me take a picture of him, because he agreed that the graffitti was pretty cool. 

Fellow photographer, who let me take a picture of him, because he agreed that the graffitti was pretty cool. 

here's an idea:

That being said, I'm pitching an art show idea I'm calling Portraits of the Honduran Heart.  I don't understand why our system is so broken and we can't move forward (Hong Kong is the same size as Honduras - people wise and this fact has always struck me).... 

My plan is to be talking to people: Hondurans of different walks of life, social classes, etc. and asking them how they view Honduras, why they think our country doesn't move forward, and maybe ask them to take 1 small action to create change. We'll see if my pitch gets accepted (but I can already see the rooms & artwork I want to create)....

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 Bus Stop.

Bus Stop.

 
 

ON taking ACTION

I refuse to be a person who complains about life, in private and in social media... (OK there are days when I complain-I am not perfect-)....However, since being back in Honduras that's what I see...I see people complaining about a broken life & self-medicating with jokes on whatsapp (ok, maybe I need to become a little more light-hearted...but I honestly think it's a way to avoid what's actually happening).

Creating change is not easy, but I have resolved that one of the ways I'm going to make a difference is creating work that is excellent (whether that's new art, a non-profit, photos) and creating news that is positive about Honduras....not negative.  

 Monumento La Paz in the background. 

Monumento La Paz in the background. 

I am after all only responsible for my actions...There's NO point in complaining about something you're not ok with if you're not willing to take action to create change...There's no point in me writing this post if I'm not willing to take action myself. 

 A reflection

A reflection

Here's the thing, I also know I'm a weird person and I'm ok with it.  

My action today looks like photography, art, & a conversation...Artists live in their own little worlds, and lets add to the fact that I'm sharing a message about Jesus through my art (that just got even weirder in this post modern time we live in), but hey if you can respect a person for creating stuff about violence/other religions, you can respect my craft and I'm going to keep creating beautiful things because I love it. 

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 My friend Daniel, responsible for planning the tour...He's actually writing a dissertation on community engagement and preservation of the 2 block radius we walked that day. 

My friend Daniel, responsible for planning the tour...He's actually writing a dissertation on community engagement and preservation of the 2 block radius we walked that day. 

  This game is probably one of the things that makes my heart pump fast (ok. there are several things that do that, but gosh I'm thankful that God created someone who invented soccer.

This game is probably one of the things that makes my heart pump fast (ok. there are several things that do that, but gosh I'm thankful that God created someone who invented soccer.

The End

If you made it all the way to the end of this post, there's small action you can take.  

I know there are many things going on in the world, people are having babies, UK is being attacked, the middle east is at war, Hong Kong & China are dealing with changes in government, etc. etc.  

But if this post made you think about Honduras... This is what I was thinking at the end of this photo-excursion: I believe prayer IS powerful & effective (James 5:26):

Pray for strong & courageous leaders to rise up, for young men & women to be ethical & not corrupt, for a generation to seek positive change, for a generation that bridges the gap between poor & rich and sees people for who they are simply because they exist...for a generation of dreamers to become doers.

Just maybe Honduras will start changing slowly. 


So that's what I learned when I took pictures of Comayagüela.

I hope you enjoyed seeing more or how I view the world and how my creative process works...ohh and here's some picture of people on motorcycles because when I'm driving they get the best of me.  I'll be posting more photoshoots I've worked on recently & new painting series.


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