Cinthya Santos Briones 2023 Mellon Fellow


Cinthya Santos Briones is a visual artist, educator, and cultural organizer with indigenous Nahua roots who is currently based in New York.  She studied Ethnohistory and Anthropology and for ten years Santos Briones 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 has juxtaposed photography, historical archives, writing, ethnography, drawings, collage, embroidery, and popular education. Santos Briones holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Photography from Ithaca-Cornell and a certificate in Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism from the International Center of Photography (ICP). Currently she is an Adjunct Professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. Since 2022 she has been a Visiting Critic Artist at Columbia University.

She is the recipient of fellowships and grants from organizations such as the Magnum Foundation (2016/2018/2020), En Foco (2017/2022), National Geographic Research and Exploration (2018), We Woman (2019), City Artist Corps (2020), National Fund for Culture and the Arts of México (2009/2011), Wave Hill House Winter Residency (2023),  and BRIC (2023). Her photographic work has been published in The New York Times, Pdn, California Sunday Magazine, Vogue, Open Society Foundations, Buzzfeed, The Intercept, New Yorker, and The Nation Magazine, among other outlets. As a writer, her texts have been published in academic and journalistic magazines such as NACLA and The Nation and newspapers such as La Jornada.

Santos Briones has exhibited her work individually and collectively in galleries and museums such as the Sky Blue Gallery in Portland Oregon, the NYU Latinx Project, the International Center Of Photography, the Museo del Barrio, the Museum of the City of New York, Trout Museum in Wisconsin, Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery, and Stony Brook, among others. She has given Artist Lectures at universities like Boston College, CUNY, Stony Brook, NYU, SUNY New Paltz, and Dutchess Community College, to name a few.

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 director of the documentary The Huichapan Codex. Santos Briones 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.

Santos Briones is part of “Colectiva infancia” (Childhood Collective) made up of a group of anthropologists who work on ethnographic and visual research related to childhood in relation to migration, violence, urban studies, and epistemologies of the Global South (

During her residency, she will serve as curator for the “Remembering Covid/Remembering Mutual Aid: Photographic Activations of Community Memory” initiative, which will bring photo exhibitions of the community response to the pandemic to food distribution sites across New York City.