MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora

MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora is an exclusive and commemorative publication committed to establishing and representing a collective voice of women photographers of African descent. The inaugural issue of MFON features 100 women photographers across the Diaspora. This iconic issue includes an introduction by Dr. Deborah Willis, MacArthur Fellow and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. It also features essays written by women scholars, journalists and artists. Subsequent issues of MFON will feature photographic essays of four or five photographers with in depth interviews and essays that will contextualize the works.

MFON is founded by award winning documentary photographer, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn and critically acclaimed, award winning visual artist, Adama Delphine Fawundu with the goal of creating awareness of the impact that women photographers of African descent have in the world. They are joined by Emmy award winning producer and MFON‘s deputy editor, Crystal Whaley.

In keeping with the idea of “my sister’s keeper,” the journal is named in memory of Mmekutmfon ‘Mfon’ Essien (1967 – 2001) a sharp-witted, visionary photographer who exhibited at the Senegalese Biennale in Dakar, Senegal and received an honorable mention in the American Photo magazine annual survey of the nation’s best photographers. She passed away from breast cancer the day before her series “The Amazon’s New Clothes” was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum of Art as part of the critically acclaimed exhibition “Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers.”

The objectives of MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora are to:

a. Promote an international representative voice of women photographers of African descent.

b. Fill a void while creating a space for intellectual discourse around issues represented by women photographers of African descent.

c. Create a powerful collective of women photographers, journalists, and scholars to build their practi
ces through solid representation of their voices within the field of photography.

d. Creation and establishment of the ‘Mfon Legacy Grant’ which will be awarded to emerging Black Women photographers of African descent.

e. Subsequent issues of MFON will be published annually and feature women photographers of African descent as well as highlight the work of MFON Legacy Grantees.

For more information, to order the book or to make a donation to the Legacy Grant, click here

The Book

Adama Delphine Fawundu & Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Laylah Amatullah Barrayn is a photographer based in New York City. She has been making images through analog and digital photography since the late ’90s. Her photographs have been published by The Washington Post, The New York Times, Exposure the Journal of The Society for Photographic Education, Colorlines and other publications. She is a 2017 recipient of the Reporting Grant for Women’s Stories from the International Women’s Media Foundation. Her work has been supported with grants from Columbia University’s IRAAS, the Research Foundation of the City University of New York and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. She is a four-time recipient of the Community Arts Grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council. BRIC Arts selected her as a 2015 Media Arts Fellow where she produced her first experimental short, “Sunu Fall.”

She has given talks at Yale University, The International Center of Photography, New York University, The Women of the World Festival and The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Her work has been exhibited in the U.S., Europe and Africa. Barrayn’s latest project on the Baye Fall sufi order of Senegal was exhibited at Galleria Biagiottie in Florence, Italy and at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), New York In 2015, she was selected for the Alexia Foundation workshop, “Photography: Agent for Change” and was shortlisted for the Lucie Foundation’s, Emerging Photographer. She was recently an artist-in-residence at the Waaw Center for Art and Design in Saint-Louis, Senegal.

Adama Delphine Fawundu, Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Adama Delphine Fawundu is photo-based multi-disciplinary award winning visual artist and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. In 2015, Ms. Fawundu, was one of the 60 women chosen to front the clothing brand, The Limited’s “New Look of Leadership Campaign.” Over the past 25 years, through extensive travel and research, Ms. Fawundu has produced several photographic archives of works documenting the life and culture of people within the African Diaspora. These works were published in numerous anthologies and books such as, Africa Under the Prism: Contemporary African Photography from the Lagos Photo Festival by Joseph Gergel, ReSignifications: European Blackamoors, Africana Readings, Edited by Awam Ampka, Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers 1840-Present by Deborah Willis, Black: A Celebration of Black Culture Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers 1840 to the Present by Dr. Deborah Willis, Unbelievable: The Life, Death, and Afterlife of the Notorious B.I.G by Cheo Hodari Coker (Vibe Books, 2004), and Enduring Visions: Women’s Artistic Heritage Around the World by Abby Remer (Davis Publications, 2001). Her works has also been contextualized in publications such as The New York Times, Time Magazine and New York Magazine.

Ms. Fawundu’s commitment to social justice issues prompted the commission to produce a documentary and solo photography exhibition titled, “Tivoli: A Place We Call Home: A Community Faces Gentrification,” at the Brooklyn Historical Society. This project was used to help a community maintain their housing during the midst of gentrification. She was also commissioned to produce a media campaign and solo traveling exhibition for the Women’s Institute of the GMHC titled: “Touched: Black & Latina Women Living with HIV.” This series project toured New York City and was used as an advocacy tool for HIV awareness and prevention.

Fawundu’s works has been exhibited in institutions such as the BRIC Biennial 2016, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, International Center of Photography, Rush Arts Gallery, the Lagos Photo Festival, The Brighton Photo Biennial 2016 (UK), Norton Museum of Art, Villa La Pietra (Italy) and the Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago). She’s been awarded grants from the New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowship, IREX Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellow, Brooklyn Arts Council, The Puffin Foundation, The Open Society Institute, The Norton Museum of Art/Rubin Prize Nominee, and the Brooklyn Historical Society. Her works can be found in the the collections at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Norton Museum of Art, Corridor Art Gallery, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, University of São Paulo.