Jun 152024

MFON Global Symposium: Presence & Preservation

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Photo by Melissa Alcena

Photo by Melissa Alcena

The one-day symposium will include a series of panel discussions, featuring scholars, artists, curators and centered around archiving and elevating the voices of women and non-binary of photographers of African descent, as part of Photoville’s annual Festival in New York City.

Presenters: Laylah Amatullah Barrayn Adama Delphine Fawundu

Speakers: Dr. Deborah Willis Joy Gregory Nicole Acheampong Nadiya Nacorda Nona Faustine Naima Green Melissa Alcena Colette Veasey-Cullors Keisha Scarville Yelaine Rodriguez Noelle Flores Théard Lynsey Weatherspoon Dee Dwyer Marilyn Nance

Location: Parsons, The New School

Presented by:

  • MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora
  • Photoville
  • MPB

Supported by:

  • The Open Society Foundations
  • Parsons School of Design

This Summer, MFON and Photoville, in partnership with MPB, Open Society Foundations, and Parsons, School of Art, Media & Technology at The New School will present the inaugural MFON Global Symposium: Presence and Preservation, curated by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn and Adama Delphine Fawundu, at Parsons, The New School in New York City.

The one-day symposium will include a series of panel discussions, featuring scholars, artists, curators and centered around archiving and elevating the voices of women and non-binary of photographers of African descent, as part of Photoville’s annual Festival in New York City.


Panels & Panelists


Keynote Discussion: Archiving our Stories

Featuring Dr. Deborah Willis and Joy Gregory

Join us for a keynote discussion featuring acclaimed photographers, scholars, and archivists as they explore the vital role of archiving, preserving, and exploring photography and visual culture within African American, Black British, and the broader African diaspora. They’ll explore the importance of representation and storytelling in preserving diverse narratives, drawing on their extensive pioneering work.

Breaking the Frame: A new generation of thinkers in art and practice

Featuring Nicole Acheampong, Nadiya Nacorda, Naima Green and Melissa Alcena

Joined by this dynamic panel of scholars and visual artists, we’ll explore photography as a research-based practice from the diverse viewpoints of artists who are reshaping artistic landscapes with innovative and transformative perspectives and praxis.

Expanding the Canon: Contemporary Artists

Featuring Colette Veasey-Cullors, Keisha Scarville, Yelaine Rodriguez, and Nona Faustine Simmons

Guided by these creative and innovative panelists, we’ll navigate the complexities of identity, unravel historical narratives, and celebrate the multifaceted experiences of womanhood.

To Preserve and Protect: Documentary Photographers

Featuring Noelle Flores Théard, Lynsey Weatherspoon, Dee Dwyer and Marilyn Nance

This cutting-edge and inspiring group of artists share their perspectives that transcend mere documentation to provoke thought and action, driven by their innovative catalogues of documentary photography and photojournalism.


Presenter Bios

  • Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

    Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

    Laylah Amatullah Barrayn is a documentary photographer based in New York City. Her work has been supported with grants and fellowships from the International Women’s Media Foundation, Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African American Studies, and the Research Foundation of the City University of New York. She is a four-time recipient of the Community Arts Grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council. Her projects have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, BBC, and OkayAfrica, among other publications. She has curated exhibitions at the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Brooklyn Public Library, and the Port Authority of NY/NJ, and has given talks on her photography at Yale University, New York University, Howard University, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. She was recently an artist-in-residence at the Waaw Centre for Art and Design in Saint-Louis, Senegal. Barrayn is the founder and coeditor of Mfon: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora. 

    Photo Credit: Alex Bershaw

  • Adama Delphine Fawundu

    Adama Delphine Fawundu

    Adama Delphine Fawundu is a photographer and visual artist born in Brooklyn, NY to parents from Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea, West Africa. She received her Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University School of the Arts.

    Ms. Fawundu has been documenting global hip-hop and urban youth culture for over twenty years. Her art re-imagines and glorifies the strength of African and Black diaspora culture and identities that continue to evolve, despite the social violence of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and colonialism.

    Ms. Fawundu is a co-founder and author of the book and movement, MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora. She is currently an artist-in-resident at the Center for Book Arts in New York City. Her awards include the Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Award, a New York Foundation for the Arts Photography Grant, and the Brooklyn Arts Council Grant.

    Ms. Fawundu’s works can be found in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Norton Museum of Art, Corridor Art Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora, University of Maryland.

Speaker Bios

  • Dr. Deborah Willis

    Dr. Deborah Willis

     Deborah Willis, Ph.D., is University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She has affiliated appointments with the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Social & Cultural Analysis and the Institute of Fine Arts, where she teaches courses on Photography & Imaging, iconicity, and cultural histories visualizing the black body, women, and gender. She is the director of NYU’s Center for Black Visual Culture/Institute of African American Affairs.

    She is the author of The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship and Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present, among others. Dr. Willis’ curated exhibitions include: “Framing Moments” in the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts, and “Free as They Want to Be: Artists Committed to Memory” at FotoFocus.

    Dr. Willis was awarded the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and was a Richard D. Cohen Fellow in African and African American Art at the Hutchins Center at Harvard University, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, and an Alphonse Fletcher Jr. Fellow. She was the Robert Mapplethorpe Photographer in Residence of the American Academy in Rome and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a recipient of the Don Tyson Prize for the Advancement of American Art by the Crystal Bridges Museum in 2022, was named the Mary Lucille Dauray Artist-in-Residence by the Norton Museum of Art, and taught her Master Class titled Home, Reimagining Interiority at Anderson Ranch in 2023.

  • Joy Gregory

    Joy Gregory

    Joy Gregory is an award-winning artist specialising in photography, who is known for her work concerning issues of identity politics and ‘beauty’ culture. A graduate of Manchester Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art, she has worked and exhibited widely both in the UK and internationally, participating in numerous biennials and festivals. Her work is featured in both private and public collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum, UK Government Art Collection, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia, and Yale University, New Haven.

    She is the editor of ‘Shining Lights’, an anthology of Black British Women’s Photography in 1980s and 1990’s published by MACK/Autograph available February 2024.

  • Nicole Acheampong

    Nicole Acheampong

    Nicole Acheampong is an editor at T: The New York Times Style Magazine. Previously she was an editor at The Atlantic and Aperture magazine, and her writing has appeared in both publications as well as in Art in America and the New York Review of Books, among others.

    Headshot by: Alejandro Jaramillo

  • Nadiya Nacorda

    Nadiya Nacorda

    Nadiya I. Nacorda is an artist, educator and Taurus working with photography, video, and sound. Her work explores the nuances and entanglements of inheritance(s) while considering themes of magic, affection, identity, and (other)mothering, along with Blasian feminine interiority and subjectivity.

    In her practice, she draws from her own lived experiences growing up in the United States. She also looks to the collective ancestral memories and stories passed on through, and between, the generations of her Xhosa and Philippine family while exploring broader histories of colonization and displacement.

    Nadiya received her BFA in Photography & Film from VCU Arts and her MFA in Art Photography from Syracuse University. Her first book A special kind of double was published in 2020 by KG Projects/Monolith Editions and can be found in the collections of The National Gallery of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University Library, The Guggenheim Museum, Ingalls Library at the Cleveland Museum of Art and more.

    Her work has been exhibited at Filter Photo in Chicago, The Phoenix Art Museum, Silver Eye Center for Photography in Pittsburgh, Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, RISD’s Red Eye Gallery in Providence, Center for Book Arts in New York City, and Photo Vogue Festival in Milan, among others.

  • Nona Faustine

    Nona Faustine

  • Naima Green

    Naima Green

    Naima Green is an artist and educator who pictures individuals and communities to document their vibrant relationships to place and pleasure. Green accesses and prioritizes the nature of intimacy, safety, and self-recognition. She considers water as fluid and regenerative and presents a window into the relationship between pleasure and the complex experience of the ocean: beauty, leisure, buoyancy, and overwhelm. Oral and written histories and the archival material essential to uncovering these stories are critical to her process. By synthesizing archival research with outreach and conversation with current sitters, she frames photo-making as a continuum and her still images as kinetic, living histories.

    Green has had solo shows at The Institute of Contemporary Art at VCU in Richmond, VA; Baxter Street CCNY and Fotografiska, both in NY. She has exhibited in group shows at the Museum of the City of New York, Mass MoCA, BRIC, Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Houston Center for Photography, and the Smart Museum of Art, amongst others.

  • Melissa Alcena

    Melissa Alcena

    Melissa Alcena is a Bahamian portrait and documentary photographer based in Nassau, Bahamas. Her work often focuses on shifting the narrative around the Caribbean, and specifically The Bahamas. Alcena flips the script by directly engaging with the people of The Bahamas, putting them front and centre, showing them and her country as complex, sophisticated, and diverse. Her strong sense of color, of bright light and deep shadow, are purely homegrown, yet unexpected and nuanced. Reaching deeply into each of her subjects, she delves far beyond the surface to reveal the true nature of her sitter and the nation.

  • Colette Veasey-Cullors

    Colette Veasey-Cullors

    Colette Veasey-Cullors is currently Dean and Deputy Director of the School at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in NYC.

    In her artistic practice, Veasey-Cullors’ photographic work investigates themes pertaining to race, class, memory, and identity. She is committed to social and creative engagement with individuals and communities that are historically underinvested and underrepresented. She has collaborated with a number of community-based organizations including Communities in Schools, Project Row Houses, Art on Purpose, 901 Arts, Baltimore Youth Film Arts, National Building Museum and Art Source South Africa.

    Her photography is included in the permanent collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and the Photographic History Collection of the National Museum of American History (NMAH), both of the Smithsonian Institution.

    Veasey-Cullors’ work is included in the publications MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora (2017 by Barrayn/Fawundu), and Black: A Celebration of a Culture (2004 by Willis). In 2021, she was appointed to the board of trustees at Aperture Foundation, New York City.

    Veasey-Cullors received her MFA in Photography from Maryland Institute College of Art in 1996 and her BFA in Photography from the University of Houston in 1992.

  • Keisha Scarville

    Keisha Scarville

    Keisha Scarville weaves together themes dealing with loss, latencies, and the elusive body. Her work has been widely exhibited, including at the Studio Museum of Harlem, Huxley-Parlour in London, ICA Philadelphia, Contact Gallery in Toronto, The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Lightwork, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Higher Pictures, and Baxter Street CCNY. She has participated in artist residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Lightwork, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program, Stoneleaf, Baxter Street CCNY, BRIC Workspace, WOPHA, and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. In addition, her work has appeared in publications including Small Axe, Oxford American, and The New York Times, where her work has also received critical review. She is the recipient of the 2023 Creator Lab Photo Fund and received the inaugural Saltzman Prize in Photography earlier this year. She is currently a faculty member at Parsons School of Design, the International Center of Photography, Cornell University, and, this fall, she will be a visiting professor in the Art, Film and Visual Studies Department at Harvard University. Her first book, lick of tongue rub of finger on soft wound, was recently published by MACK and shortlisted in the 2023 Aperture/Paris Photo Book Awards.

  • Yelaine Rodriguez

    Yelaine Rodriguez

    Yelaine Rodriguez (b.1990) is an AfroDominicanYork artistic scholar, educator, independent curator, cultural organizer, and writer who merges her creative language and academic research within her practice. As a visual artist, Rodriguez conceptualizes wearable art, sculptures, and site-specific installations drawing connections between her research on Black cultures in the Caribbean and the United States. She received her BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design | The New School (2013) and her MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies / Museum Studies from New York University (2021). She is currently an Adjunct Instructor at The New School and NYU.

    Rodriguez’s curatorial projects include “Radical Elegance” at Longwood Art Gallery At Hostos (2021), “Afro Syncretic” at NYU (2019-2020), “Resistance, Roots, & Truth” at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (2018), and “(under)REPRESENT(ed)” at Parsons School of Design | The New School (2017). From 2015 to 2018, Rodriguez founded La Lucha: Dominican Republic and Haiti, One Island, an art collective exploring Dominican-Haitian relations through exhibitions, artist panels, and interactive conferences. Residencies include the Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellowship from the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (2017), Wave Hill Van Lier Fellowship (2018), The Latinx Project Curatorial Fellowship at NYU (2019), and Bronx Museum AIM Program (2020).

    Rodriguez has exhibited in various venues internationally, such as ESTAMOS BIEN: LA TRIENAL 20/21, El Museo del Barrio’s (NY) first national large-scale survey of Latinx contemporary art, UNTITLED Art Fair, Photoville, Mexic-Arte Museum, American Museum of Natural History, and Wave Hill in the United States, El Centro Cultural de España and Centro León Biennial XXVII in the Dominican Republic, SurGallery & Critical Distance Centre for Curators in Canada, Wereldmuseum in The Netherlands, and La Escocesa in Barcelona, Spain. Rodriguez’s works feature in CNNArtsyEnFocoHyperallergicVogueAperture, and Elle Magazine. Her writing has appeared in ARTnews and academic journals like Latin American & Latinx Visual Culture.

  • Noelle Flores Théard

    Noelle Flores Théard

    Noelle Flores Théard has been the senior digital photo editor at The New Yorker since 2021. She’s also the producer for Photo Booth, the magazine’s online photography column. She was the program officer at Magnum Foundation from 2016 to 2021, and is a co-founder of FotoKonbit, a non-profit organization created in 2010 to engage and support Haitians telling their own stories through photography.

  • Lynsey Weatherspoon

    Lynsey Weatherspoon

    Lynsey Weatherspoon is a portrait and editorial photographer based in both Atlanta and Birmingham. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, ACLU Magazine, USA Today, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Time, and ESPN. The fingerprint of heritage can be found on assignments and personal projects featuring Black Lives Matter, Gullah Geechee culture, unsung players in the Negro Baseball League, and the last of a dying breed—a shoe cobbler. Her work has been exhibited at The African American Museum in Philadelphia and Photoville NYC. She is an awardee of The Lit List in 2018 and featured in American Photography 37. Her affiliations include Diversify Photo, Authority Collective, and Women Photograph. She was named a Canon Explorer of Light in 2020.

    Headshot by Allen Cooley

  • Dee Dwyer

    Dee Dwyer

    Dee Dwyer is a powerful force in the world of photography, curation, and directing raised in the roaring Southeast, Washington, D.C. Known for her inspiring images, Dwyer’s dedication to collecting and sharing stories has earned her the well-deserved title of “The Visual Voice for the People” in her community. Her commitment to showcasing the full spectrum of human existence, with humanity at the forefront, has become her driving force. Dee’s visuals are a window into the souls of people, revealing their adversities, truths, beauty, and culture. In 2024, the National Gallery of Art released a documentary showing the parallels between Dee Dwyer and renowned photographer Dorothea Lange’s photography work. In 2021, she delivered a thought-provoking TEDx talk in collaboration with the University of Washington, titled, “Putting Humanity First within the Media Industry.” Her work has graced the walls of prestigious institutions, including The Phillips Collection, The National Building Museum, PhotoSCHWEIZ, Catchlight, Reginald F. Lewis Museum, and The MLK Library, among many others. Her visuals are in esteemed publications such as Vogue, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, BET, The Guardian, Bloomberg Businessweek, NPR, and more. She continues her journey of storytelling focusing on humanity.

    Photo by Amber Aisha

  • Marilyn Nance

    Marilyn Nance

    Marilyn Nance has produced images of unique moments in the cultural history of the US and the African Diaspora. While serving as the photographer for the US delegation of FESTAC ’77, also known as the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, Nance made one of the most comprehensive photographic accounts of this landmark Pan-African festival of arts and culture. Marilyn Nance: Last Day in Lagos, published 2022, is a focused study of Nance through an archival encounter with her documentation of FESTAC.

    Nance is a two-time finalist for the W. Eugene Smith Award in Humanistic Photography. Her work is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Library of Congress, and has been published in A World History of Photography, A History of Women Photographers, and The Black Photographers Annual. She lives in New York.

    Headshot of Marilyn Nance©️RaFia Santana.


  • MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora

    MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora

    MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora is an independently published anthology edited by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn and Adama Delphine Fawundu. MFON features photographic works created by 118 African and Diasporic women artists representing 27 nations. It will soon be relaunched as an online platform. Our goal is to promote an international representative voice of women photographers from continental Africa and its diaspora.

  • Photoville


    Founded in 2011 in Brooklyn, NY, Photoville was built on the principles of addressing cultural equity and inclusion, which we are always striving for, by ensuring that the artists we exhibit are diverse in gender, class, and race.

    In pursuit of its mission, Photoville produces an annual, city-wide open air photography festival in New York City, a wide range of free educational community initiatives, and a nationwide program of public art exhibitions.

    By activating public spaces, amplifying visual storytellers, and creating unique and highly innovative exhibition and programming environments, we join the cause of nurturing a new lens of representation.

    Through creative partnerships with festivals, city agencies, and other nonprofit organizations, Photoville offers visual storytellers, educators, and students financial support, mentorship, and promotional & production resources, on a range of exhibition opportunities.

    For more information about Photoville visit,

  • MPB


    MPB transforms the way that people buy, sell and trade photo and video gear. As the largest global platform for used photography and videography equipment, MPB is a destination for everyone, whether you’ve just discovered your passion for visual storytelling or you’re already a pro.

    Founded by Matt Barker in 2011, MPB has always been committed to making gear more accessible and affordable, and helping to visualize a more sustainable future. MPB recirculates more than 485,000 used products every year, extending the life and creative potential of photo and video equipment for creators around the world.

    Headquartered in the creative communities of Brooklyn, Brighton and Berlin, the MPB team includes trained camera experts and seasoned photographers and videographers who bring their passion to work every day to deliver outstanding service.

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