Amy, Los Ninos (2001)
Although the reproduction on the wall depicts the French nobility, the figures really lurking in the photograph’s background are right up front in a painting not seen here: Diego Velazquez’s 1656 masterpiece “The Maids of Honor” (“Las Meninas”). His doll-like princess and the dwarf who is her playmate coalesce in the subject of Trujillo’s picture. Yet when you ask Trujillo where he got the idea for his period portraits, he mentions the ones he sat for as a boy in Mexico.
This photograph is from a series called “Los Ninos” that Trujillo shot at his parents’ home in Zacatecas, Mexico, and at his sister’s in L.A. The subjects are usually his nieces and nephews, who submit to wearing costumes that Trujillo designs and has run up by a seamstress. He also furnishes the sets with items from friends or flea markets.
The way Trujillo talks about the portraits, it’s obvious how his personal memories of posing connect him to a larger sense of history that he wants to hang on to. He speaks of emulating “Mexican portraits at the turn of the [last] century” and preserving “classical and romantic ideals of dignity and valor.” From that centuries-old Mexican tradition, you don’t have to go far to get back to Velazquez.