The 2018 En Foco Photography Fellowship Winners!

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En Foco is proud to announce the ten Fellowship winners of its 2018 Photography Fellowship Program who were selected from a pool of 162 applicants. In addition to the $1,000 award the Fellowship recipients will participate in the 2018 Fellowship Group Exhibition (opening Wednesday, June 6th at the Andrew Freedman Home); and will be featured in En Foco’s Spring/Summer issue of Nueva Luz in print and online editions. The Fellowship initiative not only affirms En Foco’s ongoing commitment to the financial support of artists of color, it also serves to inform exhibition organizers and curators of an existing pool of vastly under recognized artists.

En Foco’s 2018 Photography Fellowship winners are Alexis Ruiseco-LomberaAntonio PulgarinGioncarlo ValentineHidemi TakagiJonathan GardenhireLaylah Amatullah BarraynMark Aghatise, Rhynna Santos, Tau Battice, and Yu-Chen Chiu. The Fellowship winners selected are based exclusively on the excellence and quality of the work submitted. All work is reviewed by panelists who are all distinguished members of the arts community: Joanna E. Castro, Executive Director of Northern Manhattan Arts AllianceLaura James, Bronx artist and illustrator; and Ayesha Akhtar, Community Engagement and Marketing Associate of the Bronx Museum of the ArtsEva Mayhabal Davis, Gallery and Studio Program Manager of Smack Mellon, will curate this year’s Fellowship exhibition and the special issue of Nueva Luz.

Meet the Fellows

Alexis Ruiseco-Lombera is a Cuban born-American photographer based in Brooklyn. His work investigates notions of identity, trauma, and displacement; responding to hyper-masculinity within Cuban culture; prompted by non-binary constructions of gender and sexuality. As the actor and director he explores the physicality of performance, in his self-portraiture and portraiture, to examine personal and social narratives of intimacy and sexual identity. Alexis Ruiseco-Lombera received his BFA from Parsons in 2016 and has shown works at Milk Gallery NYC, Kendal Gallery in Miami, the Leslie Lohman Museum (forthcoming) has been featured in VICE, Teeth Magazine, and has been a performer (forthcoming) at the Museum of Modern Art.


Antonio Pulgarin is a Colombian-American artist based in Brooklyn, New York. Pulgarin trained at the School of Visual Arts where he received his BFA in Photography in 2013. His work has been included in various exhibitions including at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Daniel Cooney Fine Art Gallery, The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, Photo LA, Photoville, and International Photo Festival Leiden. His work has received honors from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, YoungArts, Latin American Fotografia, American Photography, and PDN Photo Annual. Pulgarin’s photographs have been featured in publications such as Vice, Vice Colombia, Slate, LensCulture, The Huffington Post, and Photo District News.


Gioncarlo Valentine is an American documentary/portraiture photographer and writer. Valentine hails from Baltimore City and attended Towson University, in Maryland. His work focuses on issues faced by marginalized populations, most often focusing his lens on the experience of Black/LGBTQIA communities. He is currently working on Trans Quality of Life, a photo essay that explores the experience of eight Black, transgender men and women. Gioncarlo’s book for his project And Then Some, was shortlisted for the 2017 Lucie Foundation Emerging Artist Scholarship. He has also had his work published in The New York Times, The Fader, Essence, Harpers Bazaar, and Newsweek among others. Gioncarlo is currently based in New York.


Hidemi Takagi was born in Kyoto, Japan and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. Takagi has exhibited both nationally and internationally (London, Madrid, Tel Aviv, Berlin and Paris). Her notable selected exhibitions include The Bronx Museum of the arts, Queens Museum, BRIC Media art center, White columns, Momenta Art, The Ukrainian Institute, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, NYFA Gallery, etc.

Jonathan Gardenhire
 is an artist and cultural producer whose work explores representations of race and sexuality, most often with an emphasis on black masculinity. His practice critically examines how constructions of power, value, knowledge and social change are produced and shared in the cultural sector. Gardenhire received a BFA in photography from Parsons The New School of Design in 2014 under artist and academic, Bill Gaskins and the late photographer George Pitts. He has also taken photography coursework at School of Visual Arts and International Center of Photography. His work has been exhibited at Slought Foundation (Philadelphia), International Center of Photography (NY), Milk Gallery (NY), The New School and Bronx Art Space, among others. In 2017, Gardenhire was the subject of a solo exhibition, ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God and Other Pictures,” at the Brooklyn apartment gallery Medium Tings. Using traditional methods of photography, such as studio portraiture, and more contemporary methods, such as appropriation, Gardenhire’s work traces a “mis-history” in an attempt to redefine and reclaim black identity through a variety of imagery to reshape perceptions of black humanity at large.


 Laylah Amatullah Barrayn is a documentary photographer based in New York City. Her work has been published in The New York Times, BBC, The Washington Post, Le Point Afrique, CBS News, Vogue, among other publications. She is the co-editor of MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora. It is the first publication in nearly 30 years that features photography produced by women of African descent. Barrayn was recently awarded the Reporting Grant for Women’s Stories from the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) to continue her work documenting the lives of women in post-conflict Casamance, Senegal. Barrayn’s photography projects have been supported by Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African American Studies and the Research Foundation of the City University of New York.Her latest project on the Baye Fall sufi order of Senegal was exhibited at Galleria Biagiottie in Florence, Italy and at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) New York. She was recently an artist-in-residence at the Waaw Centre for Art and Design in Saint-Louis, Senegal.


 Mark Aghatise is a London-born, New York-based, artist. His work explores the processes of deconstructing and constructing images of the black male figure. Movement, repetition, and the failure of both are central to his photographic studies and endeavors.


 Rhynna M. Santos is a photographer born in Puerto Rico and currently residing in the Bronx. Ms. Santos’ work depicts the everyday life and perspective of people of color. Her work has been featured in Curate NYC 2013, Jerome Avenue Workers Project 2015, Living Latina 2016 and Bronx Now 2016. In collaboration with En Foco, Ms. Santos’ photographs were featured in the article “Living Latina: The Bronx Women’s Photo Collective,” Nueva Luz Photographic Journal 2016, Volume 20, Number 1. Santos is a member of the Bronx Photo League at the Bronx Documentary Center, curator for the Instagram feed Everyday Bronx and founder of the Bronx Women’s Photo Collective. In addition, Santos serves as co-executive Chair of the Bronx Culture Collective. Santos earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Women’s Studies from UCLA in 2007 and has lived and worked in Spain, where she entered and placed in her first photography competition, PhotoEspaña.


Tau Battice is a lifelong lover of the photograph and its power to preserve the moment, proclaim nuance, and propel humanity to positive action. Born in Basseterre, St. Kitts-Nevis and based in New York City, He teaches at the City University of New York and lives in Harlem with his family. Specializing in portraiture, Tau engages long-term personal projects and is concurrently working on his first monographs about Harlem and Afro Latinas. His specific interest is documenting the African diaspora in the Americas.


 Yu-Chen Chiu is a photographer currently residing in New York City. Her background includes a B.A. in English Literature from Chinese Culture University and a M.A. degree in Communication Studies and Film Productions at New York University. She has also studied photography at the Cooper Union and International Center of Photography. Yu-Chen’s artwork has been exhibited and screened worldwide, such as at the Chelsea Art Museum, the South Street Seaport Museum, and the Sony Wonder Lab Museum in New York City, USA; Musee du Louvre Paris, France; and VIDEOFORMES in Clermont-Ferrand, France. She is the Gold award recipient for New Creation Jury Award of VIDEOFORMES in France; the Winner for 2015 EYEEM Photo Awards (The Traveller Category); 2013 B+W Magazine Single Image Winner; two Silvers for Paris PX3; the Finalist of 2017 Athens Photo Festival, Dotphotozine Award for Excellence in Photography, Photolucida Critical Mass Top 200, and Reportage Photo Festival in East Australia, and the honorable mention for IPA (International Photography Awards), Julia Margaret Cameron Award. Her work is also appeared in various online and printed publications, such as, ELLE China, VOGUE International, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Metro Asian Food Magazine and Paul Auster’s book cover.
Meet the Curator
Eva Mayhabal Davis collaborates with artists to produce exhibitions, texts, and events. As a curator and cultural liaison her focus is on supporting multifaceted incubation spaces in the creation of conversation, visibility, and production among artists, objects, and audience. Her work in arts administration, curatorial, and programming brings together a valuable roster of collaborators, artists, and institutions. She was a Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation Curatorial Fellow at the Bronx Museum of Art and an alum of the No Longer Empty: Curatorial Lab. In 2018, she will participate in the Art & Law Program Fellowship. Currently she is the gallery and studio program manager at Smack Mellon, Brooklyn.

Exhibition Location: The exhibition opens on June 6th till July 6th at the Andrew Freedman Home at 1125 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10452. Phone: 718-588-8200. For additional information on the exhibition, visit The opening reception will be held on June 6th from 6-8pm.


Gallery Hours: Monday-Friday: 10:00am-6:00pm; Saturday: By appointment.
Nueva Luz Availability: The 2018 Photography Fellowship will be available for purchase and on view online on June 6th. For more information on subscribing to Nueva Luz, please contact Layza Garcia at

En Foco, Inc. supports contemporary fine art and documentary photographers of color and diverse cultures, using photography as a platform to speak on behalf of issues related to cultural equity and access. En Foco provides its photographers, curators, critics & cultural activists with forum to advocate on behalf of an inclusive cultural policy that historically has been lacking in substance. En Foco supports its constituent artists with direct and indirect funding opportunities, professional development services, curated exhibitions, publications and networking events with industry and cultural leaders. Learn more at and follow us on &

Support for the En Foco Photography Fellowship program has been provided by an anonymous donor with additional support by the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. A special thanks to the Andrew Freedman Home.

Image: From top left (clockwise): Alexis Rusieco-Lombera, Antonio Pulagrin, Giancarlo Valentine, Hidemi Takagi, Jonathan Gardenhire, Laylah Amattullah Barrayn, Mark Aghatise, Rhynna Santos, Tau Battice, and Yu-Chen Chiu.

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