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Life & Work with Ximena Echeverria

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ximena Echeverria.

Ximena, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Throughout my life, I have painted with watercolors and acrylics; however, a few years ago, after a difficult situation, I came across photography. I feel that this was truly universe-led and that it was waiting patiently for me to get to this time and place in my life.

Photography has opened doors that have laid dormant within me. My heart space now lives with wildlife. I am one of many artists that share the love of nature and its beings, and this is a privilege. Advocacy has led me to speak to people about the lessons that animals teach when we are in observance, to generate interest in conservation for future generations, and to share stunning photographs for people to place in their homes to connect to the outside world.

When out in the wilderness and sitting with animals, I ask that you observe their natural ways of being and ask for each animal to share the lessons that are uniquely defined for you. I have learned so much from doing this and as a result, I have learned that all animals possess qualities that we all can relate to. I started photographing birds and some of the lessons I learned were to encompass more patience and to delve deep into my soul and align it to my purpose.

The chase of photographing birds was exhilarating and then I found wild horses. I have immersed myself in their habitats and in the process, I realized that there were parts of me that needed healing. Horses, especially wild horses, have a way of doing that and allowing each one of us to connect to our own symbolism of freedom, love, and perseverance.

An image that I would like to leave you with is that wild horses form incredible bonds with their family when one of them passes away, they stand by their deceased family member, and one by one they pay their respect. Their spirit has tugged at my heartstrings, and I know that they will do that for anyone who sees them in the wild. Sometimes, we live such busy lives that most of us do not connect to nature and wildlife as much as we want to.

Please carve out a little bit of time and allow yourself to just “be” when you are outdoors. It is my passion and part of my spiritual journey to share the beauty that Mother Earth – Pachamama offers as well as to share the lives of the beings that walk alongside each of us. I look forward to seeing what the future holds. It is my hope to be able to visit places in Africa, Europe, and Japan as well as my native Ecuador to capture moments in the lives of wildlife so that I can continue to share my unique perspective with the world.

In the meantime, enjoy the photography of wild horses and other wildlife as I capture tender moments of their lives in their purest essence -freedom. My work is done mostly in sepia and can be found on my website as well as my Instagram account.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
As a self-taught artist, all the mediums I practice have posed inner struggles that are not evident unless I am asked. I am sure many other artists grapple with finding their style and voice as well. Answering questions such as “what type of photography moves your heart and soul and where do you find inspiration” have led me to become more introspective in my art.

It has been a struggle to ensure that I do justice to myself as an artist, to the subjects I photograph, and to the viewers that I hope to inspire. In this process, I have been able to overcome the “imposter syndrome” of “am I good enough to live in this space with so many great photographers and artists.” This has been a tough challenge and I have leaned on the support of family and close friends and for that, I am truly thankful.

Managing the aspects that surround my craft, has also tested me. I’ve had to immerse myself in constant learning about marketing, and social media platforms, and increase my writing techniques. I am sure that many can share similar sentiments as these landscapes are constantly changing.

The last piece which is a constant struggle has to do with the heart. One of the reasons that I photograph wildlife is that I strongly believe that we need more people to advocate for beings that share this planet with us. There are so many times that this journey feels like an upward struggle, especially when it comes to our wild horse population. It is difficult to see yearly roundups of so many wild horses.

My heart cries for them as they lose their families and go to places that are unfamiliar. Images of horses behind fences allow us to see their heartbroken souls. It also becomes part of our own history and of our humanness. My story will be to continue to share the gift that I have been given so that our future generations have direct access to wildlife.

There is nothing more humane than knowing that we, as a collective, have saved other beings and that this world will be better for them. It is my hope that we can all advocate for them to live wild and free in their natural habitats.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Currently, the work that I am known for is wildlife photography, specializing in wild horses. When I am out in nature, I am in constant awe at how truly beautiful the world that we call home is. The various ecosystems that we get to experience and the wildlife that surrounds us is a blessing.

My eye naturally fluctuates to those minuscule moments when they either interact with one another or their environment that allows us to relate. It is in these moments that I find inspiration. One of the best moments that I have witnessed is with the Onaqui Wild Horses and seeing them completely immersed in pure pleasure when watering holes had enough water after a summer of drought.

It reminded me of images that I have seen of inner-city children in New York splashing and playing in the water from opened fire hydrants during a summer heat wave. This imagery is a reminder of how precious our natural resources are and how we all enjoy them. It is my aspiration that when you see my photography, you connect through your own experiences.

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
Covid-19 has deepened the gratitude that I have for all that I have been given. I feel more at peace with who I am and as a result, I foster relationships that are both meaningful and grounded in positivity, growth, and acceptance. It has also reinforced my love for nature and wildlife.

I have increased my practice of quieting the mind and this has allowed me to become more present in everything that I do. Covid 19 has been the conduit for instilling greater connectivity with everyone and going back to the “way that things were” is no longer an option for me. As a result of this, I go into nature as often as I can.

In the middle of Covid, I remembered reading articles about how families were spending more time together outdoors and how animals were seen in areas that they would normally not use. As Jane Goodall stated during Ranger Day, “we are experiencing the 6th great extinction caused by us” and it is up to all of us to become aware of how our actions are affecting nature and wildlife. Covid 19 crisis has propelled me to continue on my path of advocacy through my art.

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Ximena Echeverria

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