Grantee Spotlight: Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

Follow our Grantee Spotlight series as we catch up with previous BAC grantees to learn more about the kind of work this funding can help support, and what these artists and organizations are up to now.

Cover photo of book

The cover of MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora, edited by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn and Adama Delphine Fawundu.

Artist: Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

Laylah Amatullah Barrayn is a documentary photographer whose work has been published by the New York Times, The Washington Post, the BBC, Vogue, and more. She is the curator of an upcoming exhibition of photographs from the McKinley Collection that focuses on constructions of African womanhood. 

What sector of the arts do you dedicate yourself to and why?

I am mainly a documentary photographer, I am learning video and hope to be more skilled in that medium.

What has your BAC grant helped you accomplish?

The last BAC grant that I received allowed me to publish MFON, which is an anthology featuring the works of women photographers of African descent. It is the first book of its kind since 1986.

How have you grown since your first BAC grant? In what ways are you a different artist now?

Publishing this book was an incredible accomplishment that opened doors to professional opportunities that I could not have imaged a year earlier.

Photo of family

Family, from the series “To the East,” Abu Dhabi 2015.

What’s been your biggest challenge as an artist?

My biggest challenge is finding the time to create and sourcing funds to support my work.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by artists who take their time in creating their work and take time seriously. I’m inspired by commitment. I am deeply inspired and thankful for the work of Dr. Deborah Willis and all that she has done for the photography community.

Join Laylah next week for the opening of her curated exhibition, Aunty! African Women in the Frame, 1890 to the Present, on November 15th at United Photo Industries. More information here.

You can also find Laylah on her website and on Instagram.

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