Luis González Palma: Juan, c. 1998
photograph of person wearing bandana beside an embroidered fabric that reads "Juan"
Luis González Palma
Juan, c. 1998
Gelatin silver print, Kodalith, and collage, 19 ⅞ x 39 ¼ inches


Luis González Palma’s art draws symbolism from Catholicism and indigenous belief systems from Guatemala. Combining the visual language of these two religions, he endeavors to capture the essence and culture of the Mayan people of Guatemala. In his sepia-tinted photographs, Palma leaves the whites of his subjects’ eyes un-tinted, creating an intense and haunting effect. The eye to eye contact that results between the viewer and the subject of the photograph is intended to bring honor and dignity to the Mayan people, who have suffered oppression, violence, and racism under the Guatemalan government.


Luis González Palma is a postmodern Guatemalan photographer. He grew up in Guatemala City, where he studied architecture and cinematography at Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. He comes from a mixed Native or mestizo background, and much of his art reflects this identity, revolving around hybrids of race and culture unique to Latin America. Palma’s work often focuses on the plight of the Mayas and Mestizo people of Guatemala, referring to historical works of art and surrounding themes of collective memory and identity.