Women photographers from African diaspora showcased in Phoenix

Widline Cadet, ‘Nan Letenite (In Eternity),’ 2021. Inkjet print. Collection of the artist. © Widline Cadet, from the Seremoni Disparisyon (Ritual [Dis]Appearance) series.

Widline Cadet, ‘Nan Letenite (In Eternity),’ 2021. Inkjet print. Collection of the artist. © Widline Cadet, from the Seremoni Disparisyon (Ritual [Dis]Appearance) series.

PHOENIX – This summer, Phoenix Art Museum will present And Let It Remain So: Women of the African Diaspora, a major photography exhibition showcasing the work of five photographers, all of whom explore the ways in which their experiences of the African diaspora influence their understandings of identity, place and belonging. The exhibition will be on view from July 20 through February 12, 2023 in the Doris and John Norton Gallery for the Center for Creative Photography at Phoenix Art Museum.

Organized by Phoenix Art Museum and the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) in Tucson, the exhibition features more than 70 photographic works, including portraits, family archival images and landscapes by Widline Cadet, Jasmine Clarke, Hellen Gaudence, Nadiya I. Nacorda and Sasha Phyars-Burgess. Curated by Aaron Turner, a regular collaborator with CCP and an African American photographer and educator based in Arkansas, And Let It Remain So illustrates the distinct yet shared realities of the diasporic experience that define complex notions of home, citizenship, nationality and self.

Nadiya Nacorda, ‘Untitled,’ 2020. Inkjet print. Collection of the artist. © Nadiya Nacorda, from All the Orchids are Fine series.

Nadiya Nacorda, ‘Untitled,’ 2020. Inkjet print. Collection of the artist. © Nadiya Nacorda, from All the Orchids are Fine series.

“We are excited to bring this outstanding selection of photographic works to our audiences in Phoenix, in collaboration with the Center for Creative Photography and curator Aaron Turner, who is a rising voice in the field of contemporary photography,” said the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum, Jeremy Mikolajczak. “From the perspectives of five emerging women photographers, And Let It Remain So offers unique insight into the various ways the African diaspora informs individual, collective and familial identities. Many of the themes explored throughout the exhibition will resonate with visitors from across our region who themselves have migrated and are members of diasporic communities.”

And Let It Remain So: Women of the African Diaspora presents the nuanced perspectives of five early-career photographers who are exploring their experiences of the African diaspora, defined by the voluntary and coerced movement of Africans and their descendants through various waves of migration and enslavement during the centuries. The exhibition represents the first time works by Jasmine Clarke, Nadiya I. Nacorda, Widline Cadet, Hellen Gaudence and Sasha Phyars-Burgess have been presented in conversation.

Jasmine Clarke, ‘Ludi,’ 2021. Inkjet print. Collection of the artist. © Jasmine Clarke, from the Shadow of the Palm series.

Jasmine Clarke, ‘Ludi,’ 2021. Inkjet print. Collection of the artist. © Jasmine Clarke, from the Shadow of the Palm series.

Jasmine Clarke, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, creates dreamlike and otherworldly images inspired by familial stories, shared memories and visions that draw from the experiences of her Jamaican father.

Nadiya Nacorda, ‘Wearing a doek in Lolo and Lola's bathroom,’ 2018. Inkjet print. Collection of the artist. © Nadiya Nacorda, from All the Orchids are Fine series.

Nadiya Nacorda, ‘Wearing a doek in Lolo and Lola’s bathroom,’ 2018. Inkjet print. Collection of the artist. © Nadiya Nacorda, from All the Orchids are Fine series.

Born in Detroit and with Philippine and Xhosa (South Africa) familial roots, Nadiya I. Nacorda combines and layers photographic images — including family photographs — to reference shared stories and lived experiences that are both unique to her family and common to other diasporic communities with histories of colonization and displacement.

Widline Cadet, ‘Seremoni Disparisyon #1.20 (Ritual [Dis]Appearance #1.20),’ 2020. Inkjet print. Collection of the artist. © Widline Cadet, from the Seremoni Disparisyon (Ritual [Dis]Appearance) series.

Widline Cadet, ‘Seremoni Disparisyon #1.20 (Ritual [Dis]Appearance #1.20),’ 2020. Inkjet print. Collection of the artist. © Widline Cadet, from the Seremoni Disparisyon (Ritual [Dis]Appearance) series.

Born in Petion-Ville, Haiti and now based in New York City, Widline Cadet explores ideas of belonging, migration and selfhood through self-portraiture, family-album photographs, repetition and observed detail.

Hellen Gaudence, ‘Selma,’ 2017. Archival digital print. Collection of the artist. © Hellen Gaudence, from the Magharibi series.

Hellen Gaudence, ‘Selma,’ 2017. Archival digital print. Collection of the artist. © Hellen Gaudence, from the Magharibi series.

A project by Hellen Gaudence, who is based in New York City but splits her work between the United States and her home country, Tanzania, juxtaposes black-and-white portraits of African migrants residing in Tucson (where Gaudence completed her graduate studies) with color landscapes of roadside native plants engulfed in red dust that reference an absent and generalized African continent.

Sasha Phyars-Burgess, ‘Hayden's Daughter, Trinidad,’ 2013. Inkjet print. Collection of the artist. © Sasha Phyars-Burgess, from the THERE (Yankee) series.

Sasha Phyars-Burgess, ‘Hayden’s Daughter, Trinidad,’ 2013. Inkjet print. Collection of the artist. © Sasha Phyars-Burgess, from the THERE (Yankee) series.

Born in Brooklyn to Trinidadian parents, Sasha Phyars-Burgess creates intimate and observational black-and-white photographs of family and community in Trinidad and Tobago to explore the intersections where her expectations of the Caribbean overlap and diverge from observed reality.

“Although each artist featured in And Let It Remain So is sharing her unique and personal narrative, these photographers are united in their exploration of universal themes of home, place and identity,” said Aaron Turner, the exhibition’s curator, who also serves as an assistant professor of art at the University of Arkansas’s School of Art and as director at the Center for Art as Lived Experience. “They are also pointing the cameras at their own families and grappling with the complexities and layers that come with turning the lens inward in this way. My hope is that the images and topics presented throughout the exhibition resonate with visitors from all backgrounds, particularly those who have immigrated or migrated, so we can start to build a sense of connection and belonging across diasporic communities.”

Jasmine Clarke, ‘Olivia, Looking,’ 2018. Inkjet print. Collection of the artist. © Jasmine Clarke, from the Shadow of the Palm series.

Jasmine Clarke, ‘Olivia, Looking,’ 2018. Inkjet print. Collection of the artist. © Jasmine Clarke, from the Shadow of the Palm series.

In addition to exploring how experiences of the African diaspora influence understandings of identity and history, place and displacement, citizenship and nationality, and belonging and community, And Let It Remain So provides space to consider the larger role of photography in shaping personal understanding and imagined futures that combine elements of the past and present.

“By offering intimate views into their own distinct perspectives,” said Rebecca A. Senf, chief curator at CCP and organizing curator of And Let It Remain So at Phoenix Art Museum, “these talented and dynamic early career photographers are expanding the dialog about the strengths and limitations of contemporary photography as a tool to convey diasporic identities.”

And Let It Remain So: Women of the African Diaspora is the most recent collaboration between Phoenix Art Museum and the Center for Creative Photography. During the past 13 years, the two institutions have co-organized nearly 40 exhibitions that bring outstanding works spanning the history of photography to wider audiences in Arizona.

Visit the website of the Phoenix Art Museum and see its dedicated page for And Let It Remain So: Women of the African Diaspora.