BIO Cinthya Santos Briones
is a visual artist, popular educator, and community organizer with indigenous Nahua roots based in New York. She grew up in small towns between mountains and valleys surrounded by indigenous communities -Nahuas, Otomi and Tepehuas- in central Mexico. She studied Ethnohistory and Anthropology and for ten years Cinthya worked as a researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History in México focused on issues on indigenous migration, codex, textiles and traditional medicine. As an artist, her work focuses on a multidisciplinary social practice that combines participatory art and the construction of collective narratives. Through a variety of non-linear storytelling mediums she juxtaposed photography, historical archives, writing, ethnography, drawings, collage embroidery, and popular education.
Cinthya holds an MFA in creative writing and photography from Ithaca College. And a certificate in Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism from the International Center of Photography (ICP).
She is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the Magnum Foundation (2016/2018/2020), En Foco (2017/2022), National Geographic Research and Exploration (2018), We Woman (2019), National Fund for Culture and the Arts of México (2009/2011), etc.
Her work has been published in The New York Times, Pdn, California Sunday Magazine, Vogue, Open Society Foundations, Buzzfeed, The Intercept, New Yorker, The Nation Magazine, La Jornada, among others. She is co-author of the book “The Indigenous Worldview and its Representations in Textiles of the Nahua community of Santa Ana Tzacuala, Hidalgo”. And the documentary, The Huichapan Codex. Cinthya has worked at pro-immigrant organizations in New York as a community organizer on issues such as detection, education, and sanctuary. She has volunteered in programs accompanying migrants to the courts and asylum applications. And she is a guardian of unaccompanied migrant children.
Currently she is an Adjunct Faculty at the Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.
Cinthya is part of “Colectiva infancia” (childhood collective) made up of a group of anthropologists who works through ethnographic and visual research on studies around childhood in relation to migration, violence, urban studies and epistemologies of the Global South (https://infanciasenmovimiento.org/colectiva-infancias/
I grew up in a town between mountains and valleys inhabited by the indigenous Nahua, Otomi and Tepehua communities in central Mexico. From an early age I was embedded in the influences of pulque, charrería, traditional huapango music, and indigenous Nahuatl cuisine, textiles, and mythology. This inspired me to study Ethnohistory and Anthropology which became the foundation of my multidisciplinary creative and social practices. As a migrant artist of color, I explore identity, language and culture in transnational space through writing, photography, embroidery, ethnography, collage, herbalism, activism, and popular education. I interrogate the ways forced migration traverses and transgresses the body, consider how plants, rituals, and cultural objects intersect as they migrate alongside us, and collect and transmit restorative messages.
My grandparents were teachers in rural indigenous communities, and their work as popular educators and political activists inspired my own pedagogical practice. I am drawn to popular education’s methodologies that work toward a symbiosis between teachers and students—we learn from each other, and both learning and teaching are made more accessible.Anchored by a deep commitment to my community and the methodology of participatory art, I work with my migrant communities to construct collaborative narratives as an embodied motion towards collective healing. I often work in partnership with other activists, social movements, community organizations and alternative cultural spaces to raise awareness about issues that disproportionately affect my migrant community, like access to healthcare, incarceration, and deportation. Forty years ago, some of my family emigrated to the United States in search of the ‘American dream’. The ongoing trauma of family separation and experience of being undocumented highlights the urgency of recording and sharing our migration stories and increasing intergenerational awareness of ancestral healing knowledge found in plants, rituals, altars and embedded memories. I am currently experimenting with alternative historical cameraless photography techniques such as cyanotype, lumen, prints and antitypes. And expanding my practice to other disciplines such as textiles and sculpture.Clients:
New York Times, The Intercept, The Nation Magazine, Pdn Online, Buzzfeed, Open Society Foundations, Vogue, Open Society Foundations, Haaretz, La Jornada, NACLA, PROOF: Media For Social Justice, Vision Project, Delayed Gratification Magazine, Democracy Now, etc.
Cinthya is available for assignments worldwide.
Languages: Spanish and English