INsight Artist, 2013
“I don’t know what I’m going to come back with. I don’t go with a checklist. Many times I don’t go on assignment. I just go because I feel like whatever it is that’s happening in that particular place is important. It’s about being a witness to it—documenting it and recording it.” —Susan Meiselas
Susan Meiselas received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College 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 county fairs. Carnival Strippers was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1976. Meiselas joined Magnum Photos that same year and has worked as a freelance photographer ever since. 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, Pantheon published her second monograph, Nicaragua, June 1978–July 1979 which was reprinted by Aperture in the fall of 2008.
Meiselas’ current project at the Hickey Freeman men’s suit factory in Rochester, NY maps the trajectories of the factory’s production cycle. Hickey Freeman fabricates its products inversely to almost every other major clothing brand in the country and instead of outsourcing labor abroad, has brought international skilled workers to Rochester. The factory currently employs 400 tailors from over 30 countries across the globe. Using multiple perspectives—her own photographs, historical photographs from the Hickey Freeman archive, textiles from the factory, and more—Meiselas explores these skilled tailors’ narratives, tracing back to their origins and questioning how they came to work for one of the oldest, most respected menswear companies in the U.S.
Meiselas has had one-woman exhibitions in Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. Honorary awards of recognition 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); the Hasselblad Foundation Photography prize (1994) and the Cornell Capa Infinity Award (2005). In 1992, she was named a MacArthur Fellow.