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  • Natalie Taylor

CURRENT ARTISTS OF SAN MIGUEL: Birds, wings, nests, and everything else

Updated: Sep 17, 2023

Ri Anderson was baptized Raina (accent on the “i”), a Sanskrit name, but uses the shortened version both in her private, and professional life. She was born in Boston, but spent her childhood moving with her family throughout the US, because her father was a minister. She grew up in a home filled with books, and a mother who was always involved in creative projects. This fed Ri’s childhood imagination, and fostered her own creations through “found art.”

She did her undergrad studies at Connecticut College, majoring in Philosophy and Linguistics and dabbled in art, acquiring her first camera while in college. But her great love at the time was contemporary dance. Once she got her BA, she had no idea what she wanted to do. After moving to New York she realized that a job in an office was simply not for her.

Back in Boston she took photography courses at night and fell in love with it. For the next eight years she worked in all sorts of jobs, including many years bartending, to pay for photography classes and the taking of photos.

Ri in her studio with “the nest.”

With her own dark room she eventually got jobs as a photographer to do noncommercial fine art photography and portraits, then documentary work. She also worked as a museum photographer for the De Cordova Art Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

Eventually Ri enrolled at Massachusetts College of Art where she earned an MFA. In the summer of 2002, her husband and she, with their little daughter traveled to San Miguel. Ri was pregnant once again at the time, and what was supposed to be a short visit, spanned two summers. While in San Miguel, her second daughter was born, and in 2005 they moved here permanently.

Ri lives out in the country near La Cieneguita, where she enjoys the tranquility of the countryside. Here, in her large, light filled studio she creates magical photographic art works. Her work over the years has changed; from initial dark room photography in black and white, to a more conceptual style. She doesn’t want her work to be “a photo of,” but rather an attempt at “creating something of her own vision” and a means to lead the viewer to a particular feeling about the work. Instead of simply recreating reality in a photo, she takes a conceptual approach.

A good example is one of her earlier conceptual projects, called “Dead Bodies: A Travel Portfolio.” In this series she combined landscape photography with self-portraiture, creating images that tell a story. She did this by finding specific places—often common rural or urban scenes—in which she herself posed as the dead body. Regardless of where the shot was taken, she almost always wore the same dress, extending the visual narrative from one frame to the next.

Her current project, which she titles “Sueño Liminal” (Liminal dream), features images of wings, birds, nests, and superimposed photos of herself, and her two daughters. An image of a nest appears in most of these photos—a real nest that she has had for some time. The images are created by placing many, many layers of photographs and using digital manipulation. The results are photographic collages that have elements of surrealism, and certainly will intrigue the viewer.

The term liminal refers to something straddling two separate spaces, either literally or figuratively. That is why her work titled “Betwixt,” is a great example of the concept and an excellent fit in the collection.

The works are rich in details—some readily identifiable objects, some more vague, and their superimposition creates a narrative that each can interpret as he or she wishes.

I asked Ri how this particular series is evolving and changing, and she said that “now the people are leaving.” Which begs the question—what will come in their place?

Ri Anderson’s newest exhibit, “Faces of Migrants,” is currently at the Casa de Europa until October 8. You can see many of Ri’s works on her website: and to communicate with her.

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1 Comment

Sep 23, 2023

very enchanting story. Thanks. Ri - beautiful work

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