Join National Geographic photographers Philip Cheung, Kris Graves, and Daniella Zalcman in conversation with National Geographic Executive Editor Debra Adams Simmons, as they discuss their ongoing projects visualizing racist and discriminatory histories through a new lens.
Moderators: Debra Adams Simmons
Photoville Festival 2021 Sessions On-demand recordings are made possible thanks to our partner, PhotoWings.
Who owns history? Whose monuments do we erect and whose do we erase? Whose stories are remembered? Join National Geographic photographers Philip Cheung, Kris Graves, and Daniella Zalcman, as well as National Geographic Executive Editor Debra Adams Simmons, as they discuss visualizing racist and discriminatory histories through a new lens.
Philip Cheung’s “The Central Pacific” is an ongoing documentary photography project exploring the history of Chinese migrant laborers employed at the Central Pacific Railroad between 1864-1869. He is continuing this work on assignment through a collaboration between National Geographic and For Freedoms.
Kris Graves’ story and exhibit, “Monuments”, examines passive relics of America’s racist past in the Confederacy, the dynamic changing of these landscapes, and who will be honored now.
Daniella Zalcman’s “Signs of Your Identity” project examines the forced assimilation education of Indigenous children in North America through multiple exposure portraits. She has continued that project through a grant by National Geographic Society and has documented the repatriation of recently-identified Indigenous child remains in the United States while on assignment for National Geographic.
Kris Graves (b. 1982 New York, NY) is an artist and publisher based in New York and California. He received his BFA in visual arts from SUNY Purchase College, and has been published and exhibited globally—including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Getty Institute in Los Angeles, and the National Portrait Gallery in London, among others. Permanent collections include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Getty Institute, the Schomburg Center, the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Wedge Collection in Toronto, among others.
Graves creates artwork that deals with societal problems. He aims to use art as a means to inform people about cultural issues. He also works to elevate the representation of people of color in the fine art canon, and to create opportunities for conversation about race, representation, and urban life. Graves creates photographs of landscapes and people to preserve memory. He also sits on the board of Blue Sky Gallery: Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts in Portland, and The Architectural League of New York as vice president of photography.
Daniella Zalcman (Women Photograph, b. 1986) is a Vietnamese-American documentary photographer based in New Orleans. She is a multiple grantee of the National Geographic Society and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a fellow with the International Women’s Media Foundation, and the founder of Women Photograph—a nonprofit working to elevate the voices of women and nonbinary visual journalists.
Her work focuses on the legacies of Western colonization, from the rise of homophobia in East Africa to the forced assimilation education of Indigenous children in North America. She is also a co-founder of Indigenous Photograph, a co-founder and creative director of We, Women, and one of the co-authors of the Photo Bill of Rights.
Zalcman is a proud member of the Authority Collective and Diversify Photo, as well as a member of the board of trustees of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund and the board of directors of the ACOS Alliance. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in architecture in 2009.
Philip Cheung is a photographer based in Los Angeles. His photographs have been exhibited at venues across North America and Europe, such as the SFO Museum in San Francisco, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Canada.
He has been awarded grants by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council. He was also shortlisted for the Aperture Portfolio Prize in 2018.
The Magenta Foundation, Communication Arts, PDN’s 30, and American Photo have recognized Cheung. His work is held in the collection of Akkasah: Center for Photography at New York University in Abu Dhabi, and has been featured and reviewed in various publications, including Harper’s, the British Journal of Photography, Canadian Art, The Washington Post and TIME.
Debra Adams Simmons is the executive editor for culture at National Geographic Magazine, where she manages coverage of the lived experiences of people around the globe. Adams Simmons was a 2016 fellow of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. She spent the past year examining the future of local news and identifying scalable journalism innovations for foundations and philanthropic organizations. She spent seven years as the managing editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland before joining its parent company, Advance Local as a vice president. At Advance, she worked to strengthen content across the company’s 30 news sites and newspapers, identified and developed talent, and supported content initiatives for diverse audiences. A 30-year news veteran, Adams Simmons has extensive reporting, editing, and senior news management experience. A career journalist, she serves as a consultant to the Knight Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan—where she has advised the them on how to shape a Detroit-based, multi-million dollar journalism engagement fund. She worked for nearly 10 years as a reporter and editor at the Detroit Free Press, which helped inform her work on behalf of the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund. She also spent four years as the editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, and worked as an editor and reporter at the Virginian-Pilot, the Hartford Courant and the Syracuse Herald-Journal. Adams Simmons has served as president of the Associated Press Media Editors, has been a member of the board of directors of the International Women’s Media Foundation and the American Society of News Editors, and has chaired the board of Athena International. She graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and its College of Arts & Sciences, where she serves on the board of visitors. She has a robust civic life, having served on several boards including the City Club of Cleveland, Ideastream, Business Volunteers Unlimited: The Center for Nonprofit Excellence, In Counsel with Women, Hawken School, Akron Art Museum, and the Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop.
Established in 1888, National Geographic is a trusted print and digital publication offering stories that illuminate, inspire, and reveal. Our mission is to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultures, the sciences, and the natural world. We advance that mission by creating visually stunning, richly reported photojournalism and distinguished, impartial coverage of the globe’s most pressing issues. National Geographic, the most popular brand on Instagram, has more than 215 million followers.