Chuck Ramirez American, 1962-2010

Lost and Found 2008

Each image, of the series, shows an opened suitcase photographed against a white background, exposing its contents for all to see. What’s inside reads like a personality study. The portraits’ playful nicknames, given to them by the artist and friends, read like prompts for a short story, sparking the imagination: “Granny Goes to Vegas,” “Buddha,” and “Dancing Shoes.” Health obsessions, OCD orderliness, a fixation for cosmetics—the visual narratives reflect the wide variety of travelers juxtaposed together. As any row on an airplane suggests, the random process of air travel creates a bizarre permutation of seatmates. Ramirez’s opened suitcases pique the inherent voyeurism in each of us and the effect is fun and fascinating – like taking an inventory of the strange life sitting next to you. “Chuck came up with the theme of each suitcase and reached out to friends and collectors to secure the items in each of the suitcases,” said one of his longtime friends, Libby Tilley, who helped provide the contents for “Fashionista,” along with two other women. In that sense, the images are “not considered a singular portrait,” explained Tilley. When she sees them, it makes her think about “consumerism and how that shapes our identity.” For the suitcase filled with toys, Ramirez turned to his nephews. “The majority of items in that suitcase, as well as the suitcase itself, are from our home,” said his sister, Patricia Marcus, who was present at the re-dedication ceremony with their father, Charles Ramirez. “My sons, Stephen and Christopher, picked all their favorite toys for Uncle Chuck to use and were so excited to be part of one of his projects. It was one of our great memories with him sifting through their toys for the right ones to put on the suitcase.” Excerpt from Atwell, Wendy W., "'Suitcase Portraits' by Chuck Ramirez Welcome Travelers to SAT," San Antonio Report, September 2015.