Elias Williams
Elias Williams

New York Photographer Elias Williams was tasked this summer to capture the creativity and leadership of men who have been harmed by gun violence, and who are all part of the OPEN DOORS arts and justice initiative. He is based at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler, a long-term care facility on Roosevelt Island where many of the members live and work. The members of the group use storytelling, hip-hop, and spoken word to challenge audiences to combat the injustice that breeds violence in New York City neighborhoods.

The members of the organization, some of them known as Reality Poets, return to the neighborhoods where they grew up, inform young people about the rarely considered consequences of gun violence, and encourage them to become positive change makers.

This collaboration, proudly produced and commissioned by United Photo Industries, with support from the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, has been inspired by the Visible Ink, a writing program for Memorial Sloan Kettering patients, and OPEN DOORS in collaboration with NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler’s Department of Therapeutic Recreation.

Artist Bios

  • Elias Williams

    Elias Williams

    Elias Williams is a photographer born, raised and working in New York City. Through long-term portrait-based projects he celebrates historically underrepresented communities referencing lived experiences through the nuances of music, pride, race and resilience. His photographs have been showcased at the Photoville Festival, International Photo Festival Leiden, the Morris Museum, and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Museum of the City of New York. His clients include Apple, Bloomberg Markets, Essence, HuffPost, Instagram, National Geographic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, TIME and The Wall Street Journal among others. Williams is also a recipient of the Bronx Council on the Arts’s Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) award (2017), Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice Fellowship (2017), World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass participant (2020) and Center of Photography at Woodstock Artist-in-Residence (2022).


  • Visible Ink

    Visible Ink

    Founded in 2008, Visible Ink is the largest writing program of its kind, serving Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) patients of all ages and backgrounds: during treatment, after treatment, and throughout long-term survivorship. The program is free of charge, and it is also open to MSK staff, caregivers, and those healing from loss. Visible Ink now welcomes participants from the New York City Hospitals (Coler, Queens Cancer Center, and Kings County Hospital).

    Research has shown that expressive writing can reduce stress, nurture confidence and creativity, and enhance overall well-being. Visible Ink mentors help participants advance their creative horizons in any form they choose, from fiction, poetry, essay, drama, memoir, and beyond.

    More than 2,400 participants have enrolled since the program began, producing more than 75,000 pages of writing, and more than 250 mentors have shared their expertise, including bestselling novelists, Tony and Emmy Award winners, poets, journalists, teachers, and editors for major print and online publications.

    Each year Visible Ink publishes an anthology, and stages a performance of works by participants that features stars from Broadway, film and TV. Recent performers include Tony and Emmy Award-winning actors David Hyde Pierce, Debra Monk, Susan Lucci, and Hamilton star Marc delaCruz.


  • NYC Media & Entertainment

    NYC Media & Entertainment

    The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment’s mission is to support and strengthen New York City’s creative economy and make it accessible to all. In 2019, the creative industries accounted for more than 500,000 local jobs and have an economic impact of $150 billion annually. MOME comprises five divisions: the Film Office, which coordinates on location production throughout the five boroughs; NYC Media, the city’s official broadcast network and production group; the Office of Nightlife, which supports the city’s nighttime economy; the Press Credentials Office, which issues press cards; and Programs and Initiatives to advance industry and workforce development across NYC’s creative sectors.

  • United Photo Industries (UPI)

    United Photo Industries (UPI)

    United Photo Industries (UPI) is a New York based nonprofit organization that works to promote a wider understanding of, and increased access to, the art of photography.

    Since its founding in 2011, UPI has rapidly solidified its position in the public art landscape by continuing to showcase thought-provoking, challenging, and exceptional photography from across the globe. In its first seven years, UPI has presented the work of more than 2,500 visual artists in gallery exhibitions and public art installations worldwide.


 archive : 2019

Featuring: Elias Williams

Presented by: Visible Ink, NYC Media & Entertainment, United Photo Industries (UPI)
  • Visible Ink
  • NYC Media & Entertainment
  • United Photo Industries (UPI)


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