I found out I was pregnant, for the first time, three months before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the country and forced me to shelter in place in Los Angeles. As a photographer, I have often documented what it's like to be pregnant as a Black woman in the American South. The coronavirus pushed me to document my experience as a Black pregnant woman living through extraordinary circumstances. (Bethany Mollenkof) “Spaces of Detention” by Cinthya Santos Briones is a collaborative project that examines how the infrastructure and the architecture in four ICE detention centers in upstate New Jersey shape social interactions and affect the well-being and mental health of migrants. Through collecting autobiographical narratives, migrants who have been detained in these prisons tell their experiences through drawing, writing and photo collages. This collage is co-authored by Cinthya as they're created by the artist using migrant accounts of their migration journey and experience in these ICE facilities. (Co-authored by Cinthya Santos Briones with Anonymous)
Sometimes I feel like I wake up from a slumber and hear all the chatter around me and think I’m on some kind of alien planet. Terms fly around: “culture wars,” “cancel culture,” “wokeness.” There are probably more out there. If not, they’ll be invented and slung around. But they’re all meant to diminish one point of view in favor of another one. It seems like we’re in a never-ending tug of war to prove who’s “right.”
So when people come together to call for change or point out imbalances, more epithets are hurled. This has even happened to me, here in this space. It happens in the comments section, it happens through emails, it happens through voice messages — all from disgruntled readers. I’ve been called everything from a “virtue signaler” to a “libtard Marxist p----.”
Truth be told, it’s a common part of working online these days. Some groups, like women and minorities, are clobbered with these kind of messages with a frequency I have no way of personally understanding. And for many, it’s just not possible to abandon an online presence because, these days, it is an important component to work.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my nearly 50 years on this planet it’s that there are always people who want to bring you down, even in the unlikeliest places. It can come from the anonymous gibes of Internet commenters, a colleague undermining you for their own benefit or any other numerous examples of someone trying to succeed in the rat race. It reminds me a lot of playground politics from the fourth grade. I suppose it’s human nature. It is very ugly.
Over the past few years, several groups have emerged to say no to all of that — to create places to bring the inequities humans love to foist on each other out into the open. And as an antidote to that, they are creating ways to circumvent that nastiness and to celebrate the work of people who have long been marginalized and shoved to the side. They are saying no to the continued obstacles put in their way.
Today we’re presenting a collection of images from one of these groups called We, Women. The group was founded in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections out of a sense of frustration over the direction the U.S. was headed in, the country’s political divisions spanning economics, race, gender and more. You’d be hard-pressed not to acknowledge that this country is deeply divided on these issues. It seems to be more and more apparent every day.
The work gathered here is part of the group’s first exhibition, titled “We Women: The Power of We.” It is a traveling exhibition that will be coming to outdoor, public areas but began in Brooklyn this month.
“We Women: The Power of We” brings together the work of 17 people and will be on view at Brooklyn Bridge Park through Sept. 12. After that, the exhibition will travel around the country, making stops in Anchorage, Atlanta, Chicago and New Orleans.
The work in the exhibition spans such issues as immigration, climate change, race, motherhood, health care and more. Here is a selection of the images you can see at the exhibition.
For more information about “We, Women,” visit its website here.
“There Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down,” by Stacy Kranitz, visualizes resistance and activism associated with the failures of rural health care in Appalachia by providing context and resources for how citizens can work together to solve problems associated with declining rural health care. (Stacy Kranitz) (Stacy Kranitz) “To Be At War” by Arin Yoon explores the experiences of military families in Kansas through collaborative photo projects produced with a community tightly bound in their shared experiences and common mission. Arin's project reframes public perceptions of military families in the media and addresses the social impact of war on a community that directly supports the war effort. Collage created by Arin Yoon with images by Arin and photo workshop participant Brandi Smith. This collage shows the moments before a PCS (permanent change of station) for the Smith family from Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to Fort Bliss, Tex. Soon after their move, Maj. Charles Smith deployed to Kuwait. (Arin Yoon and Brandi Smith) Tonika Lewis Johnson's “Folded Map” project connects residents who live at corresponding addresses on opposite sides of Chicago in racially and economically different neighborhoods to investigate what systemic segregation looks like and how it personally affects residents. While documenting “address pairs,” conversations began with home residents, which evolved into true boundary crossing: connecting seemingly different people through real conversations. Here, “map twins” Nanette, left, a South Side resident, and Wade, right, a North Side resident, pose together on Wade's front porch. (Tonika Lewis Johnson) “Dear Survivor,” by Rosem Morton, is a growing visual collection empowering sexual trauma survivors through collaboration and expression of their own narratives. This diptych series seeks to highlight the prevalence of sexual violence and question how we can break this cycle. Lindsay, pictured in this diptych, survived a history of abuse and rape. She felt like she was raised as an object instead of a person. “Loving and feeling loved helped me find my way,” she says. Lindsay expresses herself through writing and is a screenwriter in New York. (Rosem Morton) As a first-generation Black Yemeni immigrant, Muna Malik's project “Our Family,” which focuses on the Somali community in Minnesota during President Donald Trump's ban on entry for foreign nationals from several predominantly Muslim countries, asks viewers to examine how culture is shaped when people are separated by thousands of miles. Here, four sisters pose for a portrait in a small village outside Hargeisa in Somalia. (Muna Malik) “MI Voz,” by Mayela Rodriguez, was intended to be a year-long series of in-person cartonera workshops with Michigan’s Latinx community exploring the question, “What is my political power?” Participants would answer this question by compiling books of original and sampled materials, creatively engaging their own and others’ ideas of political power, social justice and institutional reform. (Mayela Rodriguez) In “A Project on Water Preservation in Partnership with the Seneca Nation in Allegheny and Cattaraugus territory,” Karen Miranda Rivadeneira collaborates with people from the Seneca Nation to focus on water preservation, education and community empowerment. Here, Sam Jacobs, a member of the Seneca Nation, poses for a portrait. (Karen Miranda Rivadeneira) “The Workers Studio” is a series of engagements and exchanges between Sol Aramendi and immigrant community members who document their daily lives, labor and mutual aid circles. Though immigrants hold jobs crucial to the positive growth of the economy, they've been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Despite that, the extractivist economy hasn't deterred this community from creating alternative care systems. (Vero Ramirez) “Up for Air,” by Ericka Jones-Craven, is a testimony, inviting spiritual and nonspiritual people alike to breathe in the narrative of how queer, Black bodies move within religious spaces. In Black churches, queerness is casually present but rarely addressed or spoken of as it’s considered a threat to both masculinity and femininity. (Ericka Jones-Craven) In partnership with formerly incarcerated people, “Living with Conviction: Sentenced to Debt for Life in Washington State,” by Deborah Espinosa, confronts how Washington courts have been sentencing people not only to prison but to a lifetime of debt. Deborah's project leverages multimedia storytelling and community conversations to raise awareness about and advocate for an end to crippling court-imposed costs, fees, fines and restitution, a.k.a “legal financial obligations,” or LFOs. Jaime, pictured here, faces about $12,000 in LFOs. “At the time [of my arrest], it was my first interaction with law enforcement. That's when I started realizing that no matter how great your grades are, it doesn't matter. My lot in life was [being] Mexican,” Jaime said. (Deborah Espinosa) “Expanding Local Histories,” by Kameelah Janan Rasheed, seeks to build an archive of East Palo Alto's radical education history from the late 1960s through the early 1980s to situate this local history within a larger national movement of Black institution-building and self-determination. (Kameelah Janan Rasheed) “Dear Newtok,” by Katie Basile, is an audiovisual advice “column” produced by residents of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in southwestern Alaska, one of the first regions in the United States to experience forced relocation because of the climate crisis. Here, Drake Charles and Jeffrey Charles Jr. catch fish along the banks of the Baird Inlet in Mertarvik, Alaska, on July 15, 2020. (Katie Basile) In 1973, after the passage of Title IX, Mary Dixon Teamer founded Dillard University’s Lady Bleu Devils in New Orleans. Nearly 50 years later, in their project “Lady Blue Devils,” Mary’s granddaughter, Ashley Teamer, along with Annie Flanagan, document the present-day team. Ashley and Annie’s project highlights the significance of the team and the relationships and complexities of each player in their pursuit of athletic and academic excellence at a historically Black university. (Annie Flanagan) A U.S. law passed in 1934 dictates that people must have a certain fraction of Indian blood, or blood quantum, to enroll as a tribal member. “Reservation Mathematics: Navigating Love in Native America,” by Tailyr Irvine, explores the complex issue of blood quantum and how it relates to dating in Native America. Here, a portrait of Jordynn Paz, who is 13/32 Crow, is overlaid with text by Jordynn about blood quantum. Jordynn's future children would not meet her tribe's blood quantum requirements without a Crow tribal member fathering them. (Tailyr Irvine and Jordynn Paz) “Welcome to Intipuc City” is a collaborative transmedia project by Jessica Avalos, Anita Pouchard Serra and Koral Carballo that uses images, drawings and words to reconfigure the imagery of Salvadoran migration to Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. The project includes installations in Salvadoran businesses in the United States to honor people's pride of being a migrant. The artists seek to give back to and maintain a dialogue with this community that has shared their stories with them since 2017. Here, women read a “Welcome to Intipuc City” zine at the Golden Scissors hair salon in Washington, D.C., during a community exhibition in early 2020. (Jessica Avalos, Anita Pouchard Serra and Koral Carballo)
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