A common element of Ray Petri’s photographic imagery is a Native American influence. We take you to a small Lenca city in the tiny nation of Honduras, where the primitive indigenous ways are still practiced. From clothing to city landmarks, the city has a vintage feel, and everything in it serves as a reminder of the collective that was Petri’s infamous Buffalo Style.
Petri’s vision had a profound cultural effect, and many high-end publications embraced his style as innovative and different. Much like the way these mothers carry their children on their backs, he carried his vision throughout his unfortunately short life, daring to push the limits and boundaries of his time.
The beauty of Petri’s work was a far cry from the conventional. Like this building, it was not cut out from the architecture of its time. It was rugged and messy, yet it held a particular beauty that set it apart and made it unique.
Like Petri’s style, the way of life in this small Lenca town has remained throughout the sweeping changes undergone by the surrounding culture. It’s managed to transcend beyond cultural and social parameters to keep its ways eternal. Even if this is only passed on to a small few, those are the few that matter.
Petri’s life came to a sudden end with a tragic disease. It was a turbulent time and he faced rejection and discrimination from members of his industry. AIDS was hardly known at the time and near the end of his life, he was locked away in this deception. For the few who truly appreciate his genius, Petri will live on forever, locked in a memory of true ingenuity, determination and fierceness: a man who was never afraid to follow the path he had been born to pursue.
The road is never easy, and the way up is usually very challenging. Ray Petri knew this. Although he did not live long enough to see his vision through, he is remembered as one of the greatest the industry has ever seen. Like many fallen civilisations - the Mayans, Aztecs and the almost extinct Lencas that live in Honduras - the physical entities of his genius will always stand as proof of who he was and the legacy he left behind.
Archive: PETRIe Inventory 65
Photography and Words: Maria Pineda
Photo Editor: Sam Rock