June 3, 10, 17, 24
NYU Washington, DC welcomed NYU Tisch's Deb Willis and Ellyn Toscano with Cheryl Finley of Spelman's AUC Art Collective for this special DC Dialogues program on Women and Migration(s) webinar. This event was also sponsored by NYU's Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, & Strategic Innovation. Women have been part of global and historical movements of people, to escape war, to avoid persecution, for work, for security. Women have been uprooted, stolen, trafficked, enslaved; they have been displaced from land despoiled of resources and habitats lost to extreme weather patterns and climate change. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, displaced women can neither stay put nor return to the places from which they have fled; women are unequally in low-paid, high-risk, insecure “essential” employment, on the front lines of crisis; women are subjected to increasing violence, in domestic situations or the temporary and communal living arrangements in which women and girls in migratory situations are sheltered.
In a four part series, we explored the importance of photography, art, film, history, law, policy and writing in identifying and remembering these migratory experiences. The public policy lens through which the current crisis is analyzed is one vantage point, an essential one to be sure. The contribution of artists and writers help us to explore the lived experiences of home and loss, family and belonging, isolation, borders and identity - issues salient both in experiences of migration and in the epochal times in which we find ourselves today.
We began on June 3 with a general discussion of the issues of women and migrations, through a multiplicity of disciplinary perspectives. On June 10, we looked at the context of crises - COVID and otherwise. On June 17, we examined the experience of women and migrations through memoir and on June 24, through art. The wide interdisciplinary lens broadened the conversation and deepened understanding, opening the space of reflection and commitment.
This event was free and open to everyone. Registration was required in order to receive log-in information for the webinar. This webinar may have been recorded.
Mashael Alsaie is a photographer and video artist based between Bahrain and New York. Her work disassembles the compounded ideologies that have shaped her understanding of womanhood through the roots of her Arab heritage. In doing so, she confronts not only the nuanced narratives of women in the Middle East but also the history of regional representation and visual culture. Her work layers cultural ideologies such as the multi-consciousness of haram and halal culture, traditional standards of femininity, mythological storytelling, and the friction of the oil economy that has not only developed the contemporary Arabian Gulf’s landscape but its psyche as well. Through the process of representation and storytelling, she aims to blend the worlds of reality and fantasy, personal and generational, in order to conjure a dialectic representation of the region.
Alsaie holds a BA in Urban Studies from UC Berkeley and is currently pursuing an MA in Photography, Video, and Media Arts from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. Recently, Alsaie’s work has featured in group exhibitions at PS122, New York (2019); Bahrain Fine Arts Festival (2020), Art BAB, Bahrain (2019). She has recently completed a residency at Residency Unlimited in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently developing a photo series connecting local folklore with the imagery of women in the region
Sama Alshaibi’s photographs, videos and immersive installations examine the mechanisms of fragmentation in the aftermath of war and exile. They feature a female figure, often her own, that references a complex site of struggle and identification, and confront an image history of photographs through a feminist perspective. Recent exhibitions include the State of The Art 2020, Crystal Bridges (Arkansas, 2020), 13th Cairo International Biennale (Egypt, 2019), and solo exhibitions at Ayyam Gallery (Dubai, 2019) and Artpace (San Antonio, 2019). Alshaibi received the 2019 Project Development Award from the Center (Santa Fe), 2018 Artist Grant from the Arizona Commission on The Arts, and the 2017 Visual Arts Grant from AFAC (Beirut). Her monograph, Sama Alshaibi: Sand Rushes In was published by Aperture, NYC. Alshaibi’s twenty-one solo exhibitions and over 150 group exhibitions include the 55th Venice Biennale, Pen + Brush (NYC), Breda Photo Festival (Netherlands), American University Museum (Washington D.C.), 2017 Honolulu Biennial, Marta Herford Museum (Germany), SMoCA (Scottsdale), and MoMA (NYC). Alshaibi was a recipient of the Fulbright Scholar Fellowship in 2014-2015 as part of a residency at the Palestine Museum in Ramallah, West Bank. Alshaibi is Professor of Photography, Video and Imaging at University of Arizona, Tucson.
Anna Arabindan-Kesson is an assistant professor of African American and Black Diasporic art with a joint appointment in the Department of African American Studies. She specializes in African American, Caribbean, and British Art, with an emphasis on histories of race, empire, and transatlantic visual culture in the long 19th century. An international upbringing and interdisciplinary training—in the fields of African American studies and art history—have shaped her intellectual formation. Consequently her research focuses on processes of cultural exchange and geographical movement, underpinned by histories of colonialism, and the legacies of these encounters in contemporary art practice. Drawing on the transnational, even global, perspective that African American Studies provides, her scholarship lies in conceptualizing the ways Black Diasporic art compels us to rethink constructions of national identity, racial formation, and cultural production. These interests are explored more fully in her current book project, The Currency of Cotton: Art, Empire and Commerce 1780–1900. A chapter on 19th-century cultural exchange between New England and Zanzibar is included in the book Global Trade and Visual Arts in Federal New England. Another chapter, on 19th-century photography and South Asian identity in Jamaica, will be published in the edited collection Victorian Jamaica by Duke University Press later this year. She continues to write about and work with contemporary artists in various capacities. Her art criticism has been published in international art and fashion publications in Europe and Australia.
In Patricia Cronin’s work, traditional forms of art making—oil painting, sculpture, and watercolor, for instance—are the channels through which she addresses various contemporary political issues. Cronin’s themes cover homosexuality, feminism, the body, sex, class, and art history. She has expressed these themes in conjunction with historical figures such as Dante Alighieri or Harriet Hosmer, the 19th-century expatriate sculptor. Cronin first gained recognition in the 1990s for a series of performance-based photographs and watercolors depicting the artist in the act of love making with her partner, and since then, she has continued to develop a sophisticated and dynamic artistic practice. Cronin has had solo exhibitions in New York at both the Brooklyn Museum and White Columns, as well as in Rome at Musei Capitolini Centrale Montemartini and the American Academy in Rome Art Gallery. Selected group exhibitions include those staged at the New Museum in New York, the FLAG Art Foundation in New York, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, the Atlanta Center for Contemporary Art, and the Drawing Center in New York.
Jennifer Clement is the President of PEN International and the first woman to be elected since the organization was founded in 1921. Clement grew up in Mexico City, Mexico. She studied English Literature and Anthropology at New York University and also studied French Literature in Paris, France. She has an MFA from the University of Southern Maine.
From 2009 to 2012, Clement was president of PEN Mexico and her work focused on the disappearance and killing of journalists. Human rights issues have motivated her writing. In 2014 she was awarded the Sara Curry Humanitarian Award for her novel Prayers for the Stolen that involved over ten years of research on the stealing of young girls in Mexico.
Clement is the author four novels Gun Love, Prayers for the Stolen, A True Story Based on Lies and The Poison That Fascinates. She also wrote the acclaimed memoir Widow Basquiat (on the painter Jean Michel Basquiat and New York City in the early 1980s). Clement is also the author of several books of poetry: The Next Stranger (with an introduction by W.S. Merwin); Newton’s Sailor; Lady of the Broom and Jennifer Clement: New and Selected Poems. Her prize-winning story, “A Salamander-Child” is published as an art book with work by the Mexican painter Gustavo Monroy. Clement’s books have been translated into 24 languages.
Prayers for the Stolen was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice Book, First Selection for National Reading Group Month’s Great Group Reads and appeared internationally on many “Best Books of the Year” lists, including that of The Irish Times. The novel was awarded France’s Grand Prix des Lectrices Lyceenes de ELLE, The Sara Curry Humanitarian Award and was finalist for 2015′s PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
Other honours include the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Fellowship for Literature in 2012, the UK’s Canongate Prize, a Santa Maddalena Fellowship, the MacDowell Colony’s Robert and Stephanie Olmsted Fellowship and, due to her humanitarian work, Clement was awarded a City of Asylum Residency in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Her novel A True Story Based on Lies was an Orange Prize finalist and Prayers for the Stolen was a Prix Femina finalist in France. She is a member of Mexico’s prestigious “Sistema Nacional de Creadores.”
Several of Clement’s works have been adapted for the stage. Her novel on the mistreatment of servants in Mexico, A True Story Based on Lies, was staged in France by the Traits de Marque Company and in Mexico by The National Theatre of Mexico and adapted by Ximena Escalante. Ados Teatro in Spain is currently adapting Prayers for the Stolen for the stage and the BBC is creating a 5-episode radio play of Prayers for the Stolen with an adaptation by Jeff Young.
Twenty-two years ago, Jennifer Clement and her sister, Barbara Sibley, founded The San Miguel Poetry Week in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Dr. Lisa Coleman is New York University’s (NYU) inaugural senior vice president for global inclusion, diversity, and strategic innovation, and the University’s chief diversity officer. Reporting to NYU president Andrew Hamilton, Dr. Coleman works with the Office of the Provost, deans, and other senior leaders, internal stakeholders, external partners, and constituents to advance, promote, and build capacity for strategic global inclusion, diversity, equity, belonging and innovation initiatives across NYU’s global network. Prior to joining the NYU community, Dr. Coleman served as Harvard University’s first special assistant to the president and its first chief diversity officer. During her tenure there, she and her team developed some of the first initiatives focused on the intersections of technology and disability. Before her time at Harvard, she directed the Africana program at Tufts University and was later appointed as that institution’s first senior GID executive, reporting to the president. Dr. Coleman earned her doctorate in Social and Cultural Analysis, American Studies from NYU and three master’s degrees from the Ohio State University in African and African American Studies; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and Communication Studies. Her undergraduate foci included sociology, anthropology, and computer science.
Bryn Evans is a rising senior at Columbia University studying African American Studies and Art History. Born and raised in Decatur, Georgia, she recently finished a semester at Spelman College as a domestic-exchange student. Bryn is interested in language, memory, and movement across time and space. In her work, she explores the re-/de-constructions of self and site that transpire during one’s search and return to home. During and after graduate school, she hopes to continue her engagement with the evident and the speculative, the figurative and abstract, to sustain mobilizing efforts that directly impact overarching spatial issues, such as displacement, imprisonment, and terrorism. Bryn is a poet, choreographer, and creative director. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Columbia’s Hoot, Review and Quarto magazines.
Adama Delphine Fawundu is a photographer and visual artist born in Brooklyn, NY to parents from Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea, West Africa. Fawundu co-founded and independently published the sold-out book MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora. In recognition of her artistic practice, Ms. Fawundu was nominated for and won the Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Award, named OkayAfrica’s 100 Women making an impact on Africa and its Diaspora and included in the Royal Photographic Society’s (UK) Hundred Heroines, in 2018. Ms. Fawundu has exhibited internationally, with two solo shows in 2019 at the African American Museum in Philadelphia and Crush Curatorial gallery in Chelsea, NYC. With over fifteen years experience working as a photographer, Fawundu enhance her studio practice and completed her MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University in 2018. She uses photography, printmaking, video, sound and assemblage as an artistic language. Fawundu co-founded and independently published the sold-out book MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora. In recognition of her artistic practice, Ms. Fawundu was nominated for and won the Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Award, named OkayAfrica’s 100 Women making an impact on Africa and its Diaspora and included in the Royal Photographic Society’s (UK) Hundred Heroines, in 2018. Ms. Fawundu’s awards also include, New York Foundation of the Arts Photography Fellow, Brooklyn Art Council Grant, Open Society Foundation Community Fellow, BRIC Workspace Artist-in-Residence
Destinee Filmore is a native of Tampa, Florida, studying art history and studio art at Spelman College. On-campus, she is an active member and leader of several organizations, most notably the Bonner Scholar Program, Social Justice Program, and the AUC Art Collective.
Filmore is interested in a wide range of research topics, particularly the history of African American art production, the impact of African American artists on international art-making practices, sites of memory, and curatorial methodology. Filmore aspires to become a curator and continue her work in arts advocacy, especially for the accessibility of arts-based education programs for low-income students and students of color.
Cheryl Finley is the Inaugural Director of the Atlanta University Center Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective and Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Art & Visual Culture at Spelman College. She holds a Ph.D. in African American Studies and History of Art from Yale University. With nearly 20 years of award winning research on historic and contemporary images of the transatlantic slave trade, her seminal study, Committed to Memory: the Art of the Slave Ship Icon, is now available from Princeton University. This monograph is the first in depth study of the most famous image associated with the memory of slavery, a schematic engraving of a packed slave ship hold, and the art, architecture, poetry and film it has inspired since its creation in Britain in 1788. Another of Dr. Finley’s works also published this year,My Soul Has Grown Deep: Black Art from the American South (Yale University Press, 2018), accompanies the exhibition History Refused to Die: Highlights from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York through September 23, 2018.
An art historian, curator and contemporary art critic, Dr. Finley has contributed essays and reviews to Aperture, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, American Quarterly and Art Forum. Her prolific critical attention to photography has produced the coauthored publications Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story (Carnegie Museum of Art, 2011), Harlem: A Century in Images (Skira Rizzoli, 2010), Diaspora, Memory, Place: David Hammons, Maria Magdalena Campos- Pons, Pamela Z (Prestel, 2008), and numerous catalog essays and journal articles on artists such as Lorna Simpson, Hank Willis Thomas, Walker Evans, Joy Gregory, Carrie Mae Weems, Roshini Kempadoo, Deborah Willis and Berenice Abbott.
As a curator of contemporary African diaspora art, photography and performance, Dr. Finley contributed the multimedia installation African Diaspora Room to the inaugural exhibition of the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh in 2010 and co-curated 3x3: Three Artists/Three Projects, David Hammons, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Pamela Z for the 2004 Dak’Art Biennial of Contemporary African Art in Dakar, Senegal with History of Art Department colleague Dr. Salah Hassan. Dr. Finley is also the curator of Renderings: New Narratives and Reinterpretations, a nationally touring exhibition celebrating 40 Years of printmaking from the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia (2014) and the photography exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of Ghana’s independence, Re-dedicate: Ghana@ 50! at the W.E.B. Du Bois Center, Accra (2007).
A specialist in the art market, Dr. Finley’s current research includes the interdisciplinary project,Black Market: Inside the Art World, which examines the global art economy, focusing on the relationship among artists, museums, biennials and tourism. She regularly offers the popular online course, the Art Market, which teaches the chronological history of the art market beginning with the Renaissance patronage model of the Medici’s in Italy and ending with close readings of the contemporary art market from prominent dealers, museums, art fairs and biennales.
Dr. Finley is completing a monograph on the artist Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons as part of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center’s A VER: Revisioning Art History series. Funded by a two-year American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) collaborative faculty grant, she is finishing a collaborative project on the contemporary migration crisis in the Mediterranean and at the US/Mexico Border, Visualizing Travel, Gendering Diaspora, with colleagues Leigh Raiford (UC Berkeley) and Heike Raphael- Hernandez (U. Wurtzburg). Dr. Finley’s research has been supported by the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University; the Ford Foundation; the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art (CASVA); and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, among others. She is currently a Research Associate at the Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (VIAD/FADA), University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Tiffany M. Gill is an Associate Professor of Black American Studies and History at the University of Delaware. She is the author of Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women's Activism in the Beauty Industry (University of Illinois Press, 2010) which was awarded the 2010 Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize by the Association of Black Women Historians. Dr. Gill’s research has been supported by fellowships from the American Association for University Women, the Newcomen Society, as well as the John Hope Franklin Center for Documentary Studies. Before joining the faculty of the University of Delaware in 2013, she taught at the University of Texas at Austin and was a recipient of the 2010 Regents & Outstanding Teaching Award for excellence in undergraduate education. Professor Gill’s research interests include African American History, African American Women’s History, the history of black entrepreneurship, fashion and beauty studies, and travel and migration throughout the African Diaspora. Currently, she is at work on a book manuscript tentatively titled, “Intentional Tourists: International Leisure Travel and the Making of Black Global Citizens.”
Gayatri Gopinath is Professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, and the Director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU. She works at the intersection of transnational feminist and queer studies, postcolonial studies, and diaspora studies, and is the author of Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures (Duke UP, 2005). Her new book, Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora, is forthcoming from Duke University Press in October 2018. She has published numerous essays on gender, sexuality, and diasporic cultural production in journals such as Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, GLQ, Social Text, positions, and Diaspora.
Leslie King-Hammond was born in the South Bronx and grew up in South Jamaica and Hollis-Queens, New York and was educated in the New York City public education system.
She won a full stipend-tuition scholarship awarded under the SEEK Grant (Search for Education, Evaluation, and Knowledge) at the City University of New York, Queens College (BFA degree, 1966-69). In 1969, she attended The Johns Hopkins University under a Horizon Fellowship for doctoral studies in art history. In 1973, she began to teach art history courses at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). In 1976, she completed her Ph.D. and was appointed Dean of Graduate Studies at MICA where she administered 200 students in eleven degree programs. She maintains a teaching schedule in the art history department. In 2008, she retired to become Graduate Dean Emerita and was appointed the Founding Director of the new Center for Race and Culture at MICA. She received Mellon Grants for Faculty Research in 1988, 1989, and 2005. In 1985, she won the Trustee Award for Excellence in Teaching. As a member of the "Girls of Baltimore," she won an NEA artist grant in 2001. In the spring of 2006, King-Hammond was appointed Chairperson of the Collections and Exhibits Committee at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture and in January 2007 became the Chairperson of the Board of the Lewis Museum. She also sits on the Board of the Creative Alliance for the Artists, Baltimore, MD.
Between 1985 and 1998, King-Hammond became the project director for Ford/Phillip Morris Fellowships for Artists of Color at MICA (including Yale School of Art, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Cranbrook Academy of Art, and California Institute of the Arts). She sits on juries, boards, organizations, and art commissions including Executive Board, International Association of Art Critics (2000-2003); President, College Art Association (1996-2000); Board of Overseers, Baltimore School for the Arts (1996-1999); Vice President, Jacob Lawrence Catalog Riasonne Project; Trustee, Baltimore Museum of Art (1981-1987); Center For Emerging Artists (2005-2007); Advisory Board, Edna Manley School for the Visual Arts, Kingston, Jamaica (1988-Present).
Arielsela Holdbrook-Smith is a graduate student in the Master of Public Health program of the College of Global Public Health at New York University. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the Department of Global Health at the University of California, San Diego. As part of the iSTRIVE Team, Arielsela was a Research Assistant which began in her undergraduate career as a University of California Scholar and extended into a staff position. As a Research Assistant, Arielsela contributed to research related to HIV, trauma, and mental health among Black women under Dr. Stockman’s The ESSENCE Project. Additionally, Arielsela focused on research and advocacy work on health disparities and structural violence among minority populations, emphasizing the importance of addressing community needs on a multilevel basis. Prior to joining the iSTRIVE Team, she worked alongside newly arrived refugees and the Tuberculosis Control and Refugee Health Branch of the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency to establish cultural-responsivity training for medical providers caring for refugee communities in San Diego County. Simultaneously, she assisted the University of California, San Diego’s Black Resource Center, as well as the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, in creating initiatives to increase retention in higher education and access to resources for ethnic minority and binational students. Arielsela maintains a commitment to the translation of socio-cultural health research into systematic improvement that acknowledges the voices of marginalized communities and effectively addresses their needs.
Ifrah Mahamud Magan is a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow and Assistant Professor at the NYU Silver School of Social Work. With over a decade of experience working in refugee and immigrant communities, Dr. Magan's primary research focuses on the intersections of race, gender, religion, and class in refugee resettlement and integration. Her other research interests include access to health and mental health services amongst Muslim refugees, national and international immigration policies, community‐centered research models, international social work, and indigenous methodologies.
As a qualitative researcher, Dr. Magan incorporates storytelling as a method of understanding the lived experiences of refugee and immigrant populations. Dr. Magan received a Bachelor of Science degree in Family and Community Services from Michigan State University where she was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. She then went on to receive a Masters degree from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration where she was a recipient of many awards including the Kathryn Davis Peace Award, and served as a Child Advocate for unaccompanied undocumented children through the Young Center at the University of Chicago School of Law. She received her doctorate degree from University of Illinois at Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work, where she was a recipient of the Abraham Lincoln Fellowship and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Award. Her doctoral dissertation explored the migration paths of Somali refugees in Chicago, and in particular, how ethnic and religious identities impact (if at all) their resettlement and integration.
In addition to her academic work, Dr. Magan is deeply inspired by the rich poetic tradition of her Somali culture and is currently working on her first poetry collection.
Tsedaye Makonnen’s studio and research-based practice explores the blurring between and transience of borders and identities, often using her body as the conduit and the material. Further creating new visual language that portrays our geographic and ancestral connectivity across manufactured borders and circumstances. As of late, her work is an abstracted participatory intervention drawing from universal designs from the Horn of Africa and found throughout the Diaspora that is both an intimate memorialization and protective sanctuary for black lives.
Makonnen invests in the transhistorical forced migration of black communities across the globe. Her latest installation titled, ‘Senait & Nahom | The Peacemaker & the Comforter’ filled the interior of a gallery space with a series of columnar light towers of varying heights named after Eritreans Senait Tadesse and her son Nahom, both of whom tragically died in a European detention center. Ethiopian Coptic Crosses are laser-cut into the stacked faces which make up the towers. Each segment of the monument’s light towers are named after individual Black women who have died by the hands of police brutality in the United States or the nefarious Mediterranean Sea—all seeking refuge in alienating lands. Rooted in ritual, ceremony, remembrance, and memorialization, the light monuments and performances create space to reflect upon and honor such moments of profound loss.
Makonnen’s multidisciplinary practice recently includes a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, DC Public Library Maker Residency, an Oral History Project Grant and the Savage-Lewis Artist Residency on Martha’s Vineyard. She has performed at the Venice Biennale, Art Basel Miami, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, El Museo del Barrio, Queens Museum, Festival International d’Art Performance in Martinique, Chale Wote Street Art Festival in Ghana, Fendika Cultural Center in Ethiopia and more. She has been taking part in speaking engagements across the country connecting migration and intersectional feminism at NYU, DPLAFest in Chicago, Common Field, Black Portraitures and more. Her current body of work that involves her light installations have been exhibited at the August Wilson Cultural Center in Pittsburgh, the National Gallery of Art and at Carroll Square Gallery in DC. Presently she is in a two-person exhibit on Black leisure, legacy and womanhood titled ‘I came by Boat so Meet me at the Beach’ at the August Wilson Cultural Center dedicated to performance art, showing the extensive work that Makonnen and Ayana Evans created during their month-long Art on the Vine residency on the Vineyard, along with many other current & upcoming group shows, performances, talks and a curatorial project. Makonnen lives in Washington, DC with her 9 year-old son.
Muna Malik is a multidisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles, CA. Her current work focuses on creating poetic imagery around the narratives of women of color and refugees using abstract paintings and interactive sculpture.
Muna’s work has been exhibited at Northern Spark Arts Festival, MCAD, Artworks Chicago & The University of Minnesota - Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She was the billboard artist for North Carolina for the ‘For Freedoms 50 State Initiative.’ She recently completed exhibitions at the Band of Vices Gallery LA, Annenberg Space for Photography LA with Photoville, the International Center for Photography with For Freedoms and MOCA Geffen in Los Angeles, CA. She also currently has work on view at the Somaal House of Art in Minneapolis, MN for the Ilaa Shalay\Since Yesterday exhibition.
Carolina Mayorga is a Colombian-born and naturalized American interdisciplinary artist who has exhibited her work nationally and internationally for the last 20 years. Her work is part of national and international collections and has been reviewed in publications in South America, Europe and the US. Mayorga’s artwork addresses issues of social and political content. Comments on migration, war, identity, translate into video, performance, site-specific installations, and Two-dimensional media in the form of photography and drawing. The artist lives and works in Washington, DC. For more information visit:
Maaza Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and lived in Nigeria and Kenya before settling in the United States. Her debut novel, the critically acclaimed Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, has also been translated into several other languages and appeared on several “Best of 2010” lists, including Publishers Weekly, Christian Science Monitor and Barnes and Noble. She is a Fulbright Scholar as well as the Runner-up for the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and a finalist for a Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, an NAACP Image Award, and an Indies Choice Book of the Year Award in Adult Debut. Among other places, her work was broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and has appeared in The New York Times, Granta, Callaloo Journal, The Granta Anthology of the African Short Story,and Lettre Internationale. She has received fellowships from the Emily Harvey Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Prague Summer Program, and Yaddo. She currently lives in New York City.
Jennifer L. Morgan is Professor of History in the department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University where she also serves as Chair. She is the author of Laboring Women: Gender and Reproduction in the Making of New World Slavery (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004) and the co-editor of Connexions: Histories of Race and Sex in America (University of Illinois Press, 2016). Her research examines the intersections of gender and race in in the Black Atlantic world. Her most recent journal articles include “Accounting for ‘The Most Excruciating Torment’: Trans-Atlantic Passages” in History of the Present and “Archives and Histories of Racial Capitalism” in Social Text. In addition to her archival work as an historian, Morgan has published a range of essays on race, gender, and the process of “doing history,” most notably “Experiencing Black Feminism” in Deborah Gray White’s edited volume Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower (2007). She is currently at work on a project that considers colonial numeracy, racism and the rise of the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in the seventeenth-century English Atlantic world tentatively entitled “Accounting for the Women in Slavery.” Morgan teaches courses on the history of slavery, on race and reproduction, and on the comparative feminist theory and praxis.
Yelaine Rodriguez Bronx-born, Afro-Dominican American curator and interdisciplinary artist Yelaine Rodriguez received a BFA from The New School (2013) and an MA from NYU (2021). Rodriguez conceptualizes wearable art and site-specific installations drawing connections between black cultures in the Caribbean and the United States through fashion, video, performance, and photography. Their interfaith and intercountry narratives examine identity and race. Rodriguez’ curatorial practice centers around the fundamental contributions of African Diasporic communities. Her latest curatorial projects include “Resistance, Roots, and Truth” at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, and “(under)REPRESENT(ed)” at Parsons the New School for Design. Rodriguez is the recipient of The Bronx Museum AIM Program in (2020), The Latinx Project Curatorial Fellowship at NYU (2019), Wave Hill Van Lier Fellowship in (2018), and Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellowship from the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (2017). Her work has been included at Art Basel Miami Beach, Longwood Art Gallery, American Museum of Natural History, Wave Hill, Rush Art Gallery, El Centro Cultural de España, and Centro León Biennial XXVII in the Dominican Republic. Rodriguez currently teaches at The New School.
Tanya Selvaratnam is a writer, artist, and an Emmy-nominated and multiple Webby-winning producer with more than twenty-five years of experience in the arts & social justice.
Born in Sri Lanka and raised in Long Beach, CA, Selvaratnam is based in New York City and Portland, Oregon. With the artist Laurie Anderson and the producer Laura Michalchyshyn, she is a cofounder of The Federation: a coalition of artists, organizations, and allies committed to keeping cultural borders open and showing how art unites us. She has also been an advisor to For Freedoms, which catalyzes public discourse and civic engagement through the arts. Most recently, she produced for The Vision & Justice Project, founded by Professor Sarah Lewis (Harvard University); Glamour Women of the Year; the For Freedoms Congress; The Shed multi-arts center; and UNSTOPPABLE/Planned Parenthood. Since 2007, she has been a producer with Aubin Pictures, founded by Catherine Gund; Aubin’s latest film is AGGIE about collector and philanthropist Agnes Gund who created the Art for Justice Fund to fight mass incarceration. For nine years, Selvaratnam was the Communications and Special Projects Officer for the Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation, based in Miami, FL. Selvaratnam’s career in the arts and social justice began with her work assisting Anna Deavere Smith on the development of Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 about the human toll of the L.A. riots, and with her position as a youth organizer on the steering committee of the NGO Forum/Fourth World Conference on Women in China in 1995. In addition, she was an organizer and researcher for the World Health Organization’s Kobe Conference on Women and Tobacco in 1999.
She is the author of numerous essays and two books: THE BIG LIE and Assume Nothing: A Memoir of Intimate Violence. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Vogue, Glamour, CNN, and McSweeney’s.
Louise Stefanii is a French/Brazilian curator, writer, and founder of the ArtYnsigh Curatorial Projects and the founder director of AFRICANA Art Foundation. Born in Brazil, she studied Art History at Sorbonne University, Museum Studies at Harvard University, and worked with foundations and prominent corporate and private collections in Europe, the United States, and Brazil. Her research focuses on the challenges of private collections becoming public collections, African, African Diaspora, and African American artists. In 2018 she joined the team of the Swiss Institute to launch their first permanent location in New York City. In 2019, she started the Africana Art Foundation with a group of African collectors and philanthropists, a non-profit institution with the mission to promote and study art from Africa and the Diaspora and the impact of African culture among Contemporary Art. Her current projects include a survey of the Sub-Saharan Africa contemporary art scene, where she presented a series of exhibitions with artists from Angola to mark the launch of AFRICANA Art Foundation in January 2020, and an educational project to support the access of African artists to universities in Africa and abroad.
Ellyn Toscano is New York University’s Senior Director for Programming, Partnerships and Community Engagement in Brooklyn. In this position, she is charged with fostering programming partnerships at the intersection of technology, new media and the arts, and establishing new programming and strategic partnerships with Brooklyn’s civic, cultural, business and educational communities.
Before assuming these duties, Toscano was Executive Director of New York University Florence: Director of Villa La Pietra, a 15th century villa and historic garden that houses a collection of six thousand objects dating from the Etruscans to the 20th century, and the founder and Producer of The Season, a summer festival that assembles artists, writers, musicians and public intellectuals to produce new works or reinterpretations of classics in the Villa’s Renaissance revival gardens. She founded and directed La Pietra Dialogues, a year-long series of conferences, talks and exhibitions on a wide array of cultural and political topics. She is the co-editor of Women and Migration: Responses in Art and History, a volume that resulted from a conference on Women and Migrations, organized in Florence in 2016.
Before arriving at New York University Florence, Ms. Toscano served as Chief of Staff and Counsel to Congressman Jose Serrano of New York for two decades, was his chief policy advisor on legislative, political and media concerns and directed his work on the Appropriations Committee. Ms. Toscano also served as Counsel to the New York State Assembly Committee on Education for nine years. A lawyer by training, she earned an LLM in International Law from New York University School of Law.
Toscano serves as a commissioner of the New York City’s Commission on Gender Equity, a member of the boards of the National Parks of Harbor Conservancy of NY and Friends of FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano), an Advisory Board member of both the John Brademas Center and Civitella Ranieri Foundation and served on the boards of the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (as the representative of the Brooklyn Borough President).
Deborah Willis, Ph.D, is University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and has an affiliated appointment with the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Social & Cultural, Africana Studies, where she teaches courses on Photography & Imaging, iconicity, and cultural histories visualizing the black body, women, and gender. She is also the director of the NYU Institute for African American Affairs and the Center for Black Visual Culture. Her research examines photography’s multifaceted histories, visual culture, the photographic history of Slavery and Emancipation; contemporary women photographers and beauty.
She received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and was a Richard D. Cohen Fellow in African and African American Art, Hutchins Center, Harvard University; a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, and an Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. Fellow. She has pursued a dual professional career as an art photographer and as one of the nation's leading historians of African American photography and curator of African American culture.
Willis is the author of Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present; Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty; Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers - 1840 to the Present; Let Your Motto be Resistance – African American Portraits; Family History Memory: Photographs by Deborah Willis; VANDERZEE: The Portraits of James VanDerZee; and co-author of The Black Female Body A Photographic History with Carla Williams; Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery with Barbara Krauthamer; and Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs (both titles a NAACP Image Award Winner). She lectures widely and has authored many papers and articles on a range of subjects including The Image of the Black in Western Art, Gordon Parks Life Works, Steidl, Volume II; America’s Lens in Double Exposure: Through the African American Lens; “Photographing Between the Lines: Beauty, Politics and the Poetic Vision of Carrie Mae Weems,” in Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography & Video, and “Malick Sidibé: The Front of the Back View” in Self: Portraiture and Social Identity. Professor Willis is editor of Picturing Us: African American Identity in Photography; and Black Venus 2010: They Called Her "Hottentot", which received the Susan Koppelman Award for the Best Edited Volume in Women's Studies by the Popular Culture/American Culture Association in 2011.
Exhibitions of her art work include: A Sense of Place, Frick, University of Pittsburgh; Regarding Beauty, University of Wisconsin, Interventions in Printmaking: Three Generations of African-American Women, Allentown Museum of Art; A Family Affair, University of South Florida; I am Going to Eatonville, Zora Neale Hurston Museum; Afrique: See you, see me; Progeny: Deborah Willis +Hank Willis Thomas. Gantt Center.
Professor Willis’s curated exhibitions include: “Convergence”, Joan Mitchell Center, New Orleans; “Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty,” Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, “Visualizing Emancipation,” Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, “Gordon Parks: 100 Moments,” Schomburg Center; “Posing Beauty Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits” at the International Center of Photography and, “Social in Practice: The Art of Collaboration”, Nathan Cummings Foundation.
In addition to making art, writing and teaching, she has served as a consultant to museums, archives, and educational centers. She has appeared and consulted on media projects including the documentary films such as Through A Lens Darkly, Question Bridge: Black Males, a transmedia project, which received the ICP Infinity Award 2015, and American Photography, PBS Documentary. Since 2006 she has co-organized thematic conferences exploring imaging the black body in the West. Professor Willis has been elected to the board of the Society for Photographic Education, where she was Chair of the Board and received the Honored Educator Award in 2012 and the College Art Association. She holds honorary degrees from Pratt Institute and the Maryland Institute, College of Art. She is currently researching a book on an early 20th century portraitist and educator.