Marilyn Nance – Artist & Photojournalist

Marilyn Nance © Albert Chong, 1985

“We’re all really special; we all have stuff. But it’s up to us to find out what our stuff is.” – Marilyn Nance

Marilyn Nance is a photojournalist who goes her own way. She wants to tell the truth, particularly about her own community whom she calls ordinary working class Black folks. She follows her instincts, leading her down paths beyond still photography. Marilyn noted in a lecture at the Library of Congress, “. . . the commercial media often has no interest in showing the images that I feel need to be shown.”

Marilyn describes herself as a photojournalist–creating documentary stories with images. Although she has published photographs in Life, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Essence, and NY Newsday, publication as news is incidental to her photography. And, her photography is incidental to her central purpose: the exploration of human connections.

Initially, Marilyn produced still photographs in Black communities, including Black Indians of New Orleans, an African village in South Carolina, and the first Black church in America. In 1991 and 1993, she was a finalist for the W. Eugene Smith Award in Humanistic Photography for her work on African-American spiritual culture in America.


Holding Hands in Church, Brooklyn, New York, 1986 ©Marilyn Nance 

As the market for picture magazines gave way to television and video, Marilyn moved from photographic documentation toward storytelling. Since 1994 she has explored power relationships in what she calls “Spirit, Faith, Grace, Rage: African Spiritual Culture in the United States.” Marilyn is also a digital pioneer. In 1998, she developed an Ifa divination Web application. In 1999, she headed a digital Web project for the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, putting online more than 500 images of nineteenth-century African Americans. Through her photographs, Marilyn has provided insight into the lives of her community. She continues to communicate through a variety of media to, as she says, address matters of “spirituality, the supernatural, family history, and the souls of Black folks.”

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“Egungun Work”, Installation by visual artist, Marilyn Nance. Studio Museum in Harlem AIR Exhibition. 1994. © Marilyn Nance.




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The information on this web-page is for educational and research purposes.  Article entries and images are not my own. Please review sources and links above for more information. This blog post is for educational purposes only and for sharing valuable information to others interested in the arts.

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