“Pillar: No More Mud in Our Eyes” by Photographer Andrés Mario de Varona

A beautiful series about friendship and the impact one life can have on so many others by photographer Andrés Mario de Varona. “Pillar: No More Mud in Our Eyes” is a project that centres around a man named Aaron Garcia who was given the nickname Pillar for being a beacon of hope and support for travellers, drifters, and folks without homes in the area around 599 / NM-14 — a highway about 25 minutes south of Santa Fe. Aaron provided food and shelter, helped people find work and relief whenever possible. While Aaron had a house and family of his own, he chose to live outside where he felt more connected to his native beliefs and traditions. Photographed with consent, de Varona’s series documents the relationship he developed with Aaron and others he met around an Allsups gas station and convenience store. People like Eddie Zaidi, an Iraq war veteran, as well as Aaron’s younger brother, Russell Garcia, who left his home to stay with Aaron:

“I became part of the community through this gas station that is near my home, and it was Aaron who I resonated with the most. Together, Aaron and I started making a visual record of his life and duties, with the inclusion of men who have wanted to participate in sharing a part of themselves without fear of shame or judgment. This work is primarily for them.”

Russell passed away last year and Aaron died on September 22 of this year.

With over 100 negatives, sharing this project has become de Varona’s way of honouring both Aaron and Russel’s legacies and the impact they had on those around them. As de Varona explains, his time with Pillar allowed him to recognize “my own lack of home within myself” and has continued to influence the way he reflects on his past and purpose moving forward: “I believe my own sense of loss, unfairness, and family struggles, has made me want to see people who have experienced profound loss, or that are going through a painful change in themselves, yet can help others through a similar darkness.” See more images below.























































In memory of Aaron Martin Garcia 11/22/1972 – 09/22/2023 and Russell Lawrence Garcia 06/07/1977 – 02/06/2022


Andrés Mario de Varona’s Website

Andrés Mario de Varona on Instagram

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