Making Mom a Movie Star

Creating a Documentary About My Mother’s Work in the Fields Helped Me See Her in a New Light

On a typical morning, my mother, Camelia Maribel Sanchez, drives 15 minutes from our house in Coachella, a small city in the Southern California desert, to the bell pepper fields in the town of Mecca. By 6 a.m. at the latest, she starts to pick red and green peppers. She then labels the peppers with company stickers, stacks them neatly in boxes, and gives them a quick dusting off. Sometimes she helps plant seedlings in the ground.

When she’s in the fields, she usually has a bandana around her nose and …

Painting Portraits in a Bankrupt City

I Moved to San Bernardino to Pursue My Ambitions. I Found a Place That Had Lost All Ambition of Its Own.

Early in 2013, I moved to San Bernardino with my girlfriend at the time and our 1-month-old daughter. I had family there but hadn’t lived in San Bernardino since I …