Three featured artists will serve as keynote speakers for the conference. Each of these women of color has a creative practice that questions how photography functions in relation to themselves and their communities and each proposes to dismantle the power of the photographic image.
Wendy Red Star works across disciplines to explore the intersections of Native American ideologies and colonialist structures, both historically and in contemporary society. Raised on the Apsáalooke (Crow) reservation in Montana, Red Star's work is informed both by her cultural heritage and her engagement with many forms of creative expression, including photography, sculpture, video, fiber arts, and performance. An avid researcher of archives and historical narratives, Red Star seeks to incorporate and recast her research, offering new and unexpected perspectives in work that is at once inquisitive, witty and unsettling. Intergenerational collaborative work is integral to her practice, along with creating a forum for the expression of Native women's voices in contemporary art.
Nydia Blas uses photography, collage, video, and books to address matters of sexuality, intimacy, and her lived experience as a girl, woman, and mother. Blas delicately weaves stories concerning circumstance, value, and power and uses her work to create a physical and allegorical space presented through a Black feminine lens. The result is an environment that is dependent upon the belief that in order to maintain resiliency, a magical outlook is necessary. In this space, props function as extensions of the body, costumes as markers of identity, and gestures/actions reveal the performance, celebration, discovery and confrontation involved in reclaiming one's body for their own exploration, discovery and understanding. In the work titled "The Girls who spun Gold," her goal was to create a space where an amazing group of girls she had developed interpersonal relationships with felt valued, supported, and that filled in the blanks where their formal education did not serve them. Eventually their bonds were reproduced visually in the photographs that they worked to make together.
Throughout her photographic career, the subject of Lupita Tinnen's work has been the Mexican immigrant and undocumented community. It is special to her because her parents are Mexican immigrants. While she was raised in American culture, she was also raised in an undocumented culture and her parents lived in fear for many years. The focus of her current body of work is on undocumented college students. Year after year, thousands of law-abiding high school students, who are undocumented, graduate without being able to plan for the future, and others are removed from their homes to countries they barely know. In her statement she says, "Through the details and objects found in their bedrooms, I show how they are American in every sense except unlike the average American student, once these undocumented students graduate from college, they will be unable to obtain a job. I have chosen not to show their faces so as not to disclose their true identity yet I want to show their existence. In addition, I have added text to some of the images to give each person the opportunity to share their personal stories and feelings. Each image is titled with the age they were brought to the United States and their college major. All of the students I photograph have demonstrated a commitment to hard work and are currently attending various colleges around North Texas. These educated students want nothing more than to be able to contribute to the only country they know and love."