Migrant Herbalism is a project that examines the belief system of traditional and popular medicine—Afro-indigenous—of Latin America and how their knowledge, healing practices, and rituals have migrated with forced displacement to the United States.

Through alternative techniques of cameraless photography, visual documentation, ancient codices, oral history, community workshops, and embroidery, I document and share ritual knowledge to heal physically and spiritually, with herbs and therapies offered by traditional healers, among communities of immigrants, in response to racial and economic disparities in health care access in New York City – where most of the “undocumented” immigrants do not have health insurance.

Inspired by Anna Atkins’ photographs of algae, I create photograms: cyanotypes and lumens on fabrics embroidered with illustrations from the Cruz-Badiano Codex – the oldest book on medicinal plants in the Americas, written in Nahuatl by the Aztecs in the 16th century – and medicinal herbs, barks, and seeds that have migrated with us and are found in botanicas in New York City. Through community workshops, migrant women collaborate in this project by writing ancestral knowledge about herbalism, with which I create hand-made artisanal books challenging Western beliefs about health.

Artist Bios

  • Cinthya Santos Briones

    Cinthya Santos Briones

    Cinthya Santos Briones is a visual artist, educator, and cultural organizer with indigenous Nahua roots based in New York.  She studied Ethnohistory and Anthropology and for ten years Cinthya worked as a researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History in México focused on issues on indigenous migration, codex, textiles and traditional medicine.

    As an artist, her work focuses on a multidisciplinary social practice that combines participatory art and the construction of collective narratives. Through a variety of non-linear storytelling mediums she juxtaposed photography, historical archives, writing, ethnography, drawings, collage, embroidery, and popular education. Cinthya holds an MFA in creative writing and photography from Ithaca-Cornell and a certificate in Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism from the International Center of Photography (ICP). Currently she is an Adjunct Faculty at the Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. Since 2022 she is part of Columbia University Visiting Critic artist.

    She is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the Magnum Foundation (2016/2018/2020), En Foco (2017/2022), National Geographic Research and Exploration (2018), We Woman (2019), City Artist Corps (2020), National Fund for Culture and the Arts of México (2009/2011), Wave Hill House Winter Residency (2023), Mellon Artist Fellow at Hemispheric Institute in NYU University (2023-24), BricLab Contemporary Art (2023), etc. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Pdn, California Sunday Magazine, Vogue, Open Society Foundations, Buzzfeed, The Intercept, New Yorker,  The Nation Magazine, among others.  As a writer, her texts have been published in academic and journalistic magazines such as NACLA and The Nation and newspapers such as La Jornada.

    Cinthya has exhibited her work individually and collectively in galleries and museums such as Sky Blue Gallery in Portland Oregon, Latinx Project, NYU, International Center Of Photography, Museo del Barrio, Museum of the City of New York, Trout Museum in Wisconsin, Paul W. Zuccaire gallery, Stony Brook, among others. She has given Artists Lectures at universities like Boston College, CUNY, Stony Brook, NYU, SUNY New Paltz,  Dutchess Community College, Columbia, to name a few.


  • 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,

Herbolario Migrante (Migrant Herbalism)

 coming soon

Featuring: Cinthya Santos Briones

Curated by: Cinthya Santos Briones

Presented by: Photoville
  • Photoville


ON VIEW AT: Container 23

View Location Details Brooklyn Bridge Park – Emily Warren Roebling Plaza

1 Water St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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Related Events

Jun 12024

Herbalism: Cyanotype Workshop with Medicinal Herbs

Create cyanotypes on fabric and paper to capture the souls of medicinal herbs.

Learn More

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