In the 1970s I took advantage of days off from classes at the Universidad de las Americas in Cholula to travel around Mexico with family and friends. We were graduate students in art history and archaeology, and that required a stop at nearly every Colonial church and archaeological site. The trips, along with my photos, were pretty much unplanned.
I was seldom without my camera because, for me, the Cholula-Puebla region is one of the most photogenic in Mexico. To the west are the snow capped volcanoes of Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl; and scattered throughout the region are small farming villages and, some say, 365 Colonial churches. True or not, the churches are architectural jewels, and a photographic challenge.
Of course, Mexico has many landscapes -- the dry and open spaces of Oaxaca that are reminiscent of Northern California, the damp-steep mountains of the Sierra Norte de Puebla, the rugged western mountains near Tepic, volcanoes both dormant and ready to erupt, deserts in Northern Mexico and Baja California, the flat limestone plain of Yucatán surrounded by the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and the thick humid tropical rainforest along the Gulf Coast that penetrates inland for hundreds of miles.
Most everywhere you travel in Mexico you are likely to see the remains of an ancient civilization. One of the most spectacular, near Mexico City, is Teotihuacan (popularly known as “The Pyramids”), but equally spectacular are the great cities of the Maya in Yucatán, and those of the Zapotecs and Mixtecs in Oaxaca.
The photos in this book were selected from my Kodachrome transparencies and black-and-white negatives that are now archived by the Peabody Museum at Harvard University. With a few exceptions, they date from the early 1970s, and were taken with a 35mm Leicaflex SL camera using 35mm, 50mm, and 90mm lenses.
Lawrence G. Desmond received his PhD in anthropology and archaeology from the University of Colorado, Boulder; his MA in anthropology from the Universidad de las Americas in Cholula, Mexico, and carried-out archaeological research in Mexico and Guatemala for more than 40 years. He taught at the University of Minnesota and San Francisco State University. His books, "A Dream of Maya" and "Yucatán through her eyes," are about the photography and studies of the ancient Maya by Alice and Augustus Le Plongeon who worked in Yucatán in the 1870s. His photographs of the people, architecture, and landscape of Mexico and Guatemala are archived at Harvard University's Peabody Museum, and photographs of the Moses Mesoamerican Archive and Research Project (MMARP) are at the Getty Research Institute. Desmond is a senior research fellow in archaeology with the MMARP at Harvard University, and a research associate with the Department of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences.
A Catalog of the 19th Century Photographs of Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon Published March 24, 2015
Scholars in Dark Glasses- Photos of MMARP Symposia, 1992 to 1994 Published November 16, 2014
An Unintentional Photographer, 1968-1970 Published July 28, 2014
Growing up in California, 1947-1959 Published June 04, 2014
MEXICO - As it was. Photographs of Life in the 1970s. Published January 03, 2014
Santo Tomás Jalieza Oaxaca, Mexico 1973 Published November 30, 2013
Tepetzintla, Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico 1972 Published August 29, 2013
The San Francisco Peace March Vietnam War Moratorium, November 15, 1969 Published July 28, 2013