Susan Meiselas, photojournalist and alumna, to address Sarah Lawrence’s 76th Commencement on May 20 at 10 a.m. on Westlands lawn. One of the most prolific female photojournalists in the world, Meiselas will address the candidates for the 283 Bachelor of Arts degree and 127 candidates for Master’s degrees. An exhibit of Meiselas’ work will be shown in the gallery of the Esther Raushenbush Library from May 14 – 27.
On May 10, Meiselas was awarded the Cornell Capa award for career achievement at the 21st annual Infinity Awards Ceremony of the International Center for Photography, one of the most distinguished awards in the field. She has worked as a freelance photographer since 1976 when she joined Magnum Photos, the world-renowned agency founded by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier Bresson and others. She is best known for her coverage of the insurrection in Nicaragua and her documentation of human rights issues in Latin America, which were published widely throughout the world. In 1981, her second monograph, Nicaragua, June 1978-July 1979 was published by Pantheon Books.
An editor and contributor to the book El Salvador: The Work of Thirty Photographers (1983) and editor of Chile from Within (1991), Meiselas has also co-directed two films: Living at Risk: The Story of a Nicaraguan Family (1986), and Pictures from a Revolution (1991). In 1997 she finished curating a 100-year photographic history of Kurdistan, integrating her own work into the book, Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History (1997), created a website, and mounted an exhibition that traveled throughout the United States and Europe.
Meiselas received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence and her M.A. in visual education from Harvard University. Her first major photographic essay focused on the lives of women doing striptease at New England country fairs, which she completed while teaching photography in New York Public Schools. A selection of this book, Carnival Strippers was installed at the Whitney Museum of Art in 2000. Her most recent work includes Encounters with the Dani, which explores a 60-year history of outsiders’ discovery and interactions with the Dani, an indigenous people of the highlands of Papua in Indonesia.
Meiselas has had one-woman exhibitions in Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. Her work is included in American and international collections. Honorary awards include: the Robert Capa Gold Medal for “outstanding courage and reporting” by the Overseas Press Club for her work in Nicaragua (1979); the Leica Award for Excellence (1982); the Engelhard Award from the Institute of Contemporary Art (1985); the Maria Moors Cabot Prize from Columbia University for her coverage of Latin America (1994); and the Hasselblad Foundation Photography prize (1994). In 1992, she was named a MacArthur Fellow.