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sepia EYE: Qiana Mestrich

Qiana Mestrich

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Qiana Mestrich is a photographer, writer, digital marketer, and mother living and working in Brooklyn, NY. In response to the discernible lack of representation in her photography education, Mestrich founded the blog Dodge & Burn: Decolonizing Photography History in 2007. Featuring interviews with and profiles of photographers of color, the blog advocates for a more inclusive version of photography history, featuring contributions to the medium by and about underrepresented cultures.

Photography history, like many other histories, has an exclusive canon which includes a select few of mostly white males who have been recognized for their contributions to the medium. Established by curators Beaumont Newhall and John Szarkowski, this canon is taught in schools as part of the curriculum of photography history and it is perpetuated online in photography blogs/websites. Notable African Americans and other photographers of color around the world making work at the same time throughout the history of photography have been “dodged” and “burned” from the canon.

Throughout the years that I’ve been writing my blog, the responses I’ve gotten from readers points to a need to fill in the gaps within this dominant narrative of photography history and to establish a new history of contemporary photography that is recorded online. As a female photographer of color, my own work is autobiographical and also attempts to visualize life stories that I feel are largely invisible. – Qiana Mestrich

As featured in sepiaEYE’s exhibition, Dress-Up, Mestrich’s series, “Namesake” and “Inhertited Patterns” examines her namesake – the Qiana fabric created by Dupont in 1968. Due to savvy marketing, the fabric name became adopted for many African American girls in the years to follow. “Inherited Patterns” combines vintage photographs from the DuPont marketing archive with fragments of mug shot photos of other women named Qiana. These mug shots of predominantly Black and Latino women formed the basis for “Namesake,” and exploration of the use of the camera to identify and control “the criminal body.”

Qiana Mestrich lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She was most recently the Associate Director of Digital Content and Engagement at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York. Starting Spring 2017 she will be an adjunct professor in social media at the Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY). She is a 2013 graduate of the ICP-Bard College MFA in Advanced Photographic Practice and received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College with a concentration on photography. Mestrich is the founder of the Dodge & Burn blog, co-editor of How We Do Both: Art and Motherhood (Secretary Press, 2012), and has published numerous books including Some Kind of War (2013), Invisible – Part I and Part II (2012), and Hard To Place (2015). Solo exhibitions include Hard To Place, Booklyn Art Space, Brooklyn, NY (2016), Inherited Patterns, New York Public Library Picture Collection, New York, NY (2014 – 2015), The Project Space at Corridor Gallery/RUSH Arts, Brooklyn (2014) as well as group exhibitions including On Being Black, Arnika Dawkins Gallery, Atlanta, GA (2015).

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