American Exile is a series of photographs and interviews documenting the stories of immigrants who have been ordered deported from the United States, as well as their family members – often, American citizens – who suffer the consequences of the harsh punishment of exile. The catalyst for this project was the five months Graham spent in immigration detention in 2010, facing deportation because of a misdemeanor conviction – despite living in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident since 1999. After winning his case, he and Susan began gathering stories of families caught up in deportation proceedings, including asylum seekers, green card holders, and immigrants trapped in the bureaucracy of adjusting a visa. Our goal is to show the wide range of people affected when someone is deported, including spouses and children who remain in the U.S., forever separated from a parent or partner living in exile. This project is supported by a 2014 fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation.
Graham MacIndoe & Susan Stellin
Graham MacIndoe is a photographer and Susan Stellin is a writer and researcher who earned a master’s in public health from Columbia University in 2019. They have collaborated on many projects combining interviews and photography—including exhibitions, events, and a memoir, Chancers, about MacIndoe’s addiction, incarceration, and recovery. Their 2021 Photoville exhibition, Preventing Overdose Deaths: How to Save and Uplift Lives, features photos and quotes from staff, volunteers, and participants at community-based health and social justice organizations—sharing their ideas about how to reduce overdose deaths and improve the lives of people who have been harmed by punitive drug policies, discrimination, and poverty.
MacIndoe and Stellin specialize in collaborative storytelling, working with participants to challenge stereotypes and broaden understandings about complex issues and stigmatized groups. In 2019, they co-curated the exhibition Beyond Addiction: Reframing Recovery at the Aronson Galleries in New York City, which then traveled to RIT’s City Art Space in Rochester, New York in 2020—including new work by local artists and participants in a workshop MacIndoe and Stellin. Their series, American Exile, documenting the stories of families divided by deportation, debuted at Photoville in 2015 and was selected for the Head On photography festival in Sydney, Australia in 2016.
Born in Scotland, MacIndoe earned an MFA from the Royal College of Art in London, moved to New York City, and has worked as a photographer since 1999—publishing and exhibiting his work widely, including solo exhibitions at the National Arts Club in New York City, the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery—which exhibited images from his series “Coming Clean”. He teaches photography at Parsons School of Design and recently published Light Years, a book of photographs of the Grammy award-winning band The National.
Stellin earned a B.A. in political science from Stanford University, moved to New York City in 1998, and was a regular contributor to The New York Times for more than 15 years. Her articles and essays have also appeared in New York Magazine, the Guardian, the Atlantic, and many other publications. Stellin teaches courses on media ethics and collaborative storytelling. As a research and communications consultant, she has worked on projects about ways to reduce overdose deaths, reform criminal justice practices, and decrease stigma that can be a barrier to seeking help. MacIndoe and Stellin live together in Brooklyn.
Families for Freedom
Parsons School of Design
A pioneer in art and design education for more than a century, Parsons School of Design is one of the most prestigious and comprehensive colleges of art and design in the world. Critical thinking, collaboration, and reflective practice are at the heart of a Parsons education. Located in the heart of New York City, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of design disciplines. The goal of the MFA program is to prepare graduates to define the creative role of photography within contemporary culture as practicing artists and scholars. The program challenges participants to move beyond current paradigms in order to anticipate and set trends, rather than follow them. A rigorous critique process and regular meetings with faculty, professional artists, and visiting critics help students develop individual points of view and to situate themselves and their work within larger historical, theoretical, and contemporary visual contexts.
Alicia Patterson Foundation
American Exile: Detained, Deported, and Divided
Featuring: Graham MacIndoe & Susan Stellin
1 Water St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
This location is part of Brooklyn Bridge Park
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