Photographer Susan Meiselas (b. 1948, Baltimore, MD) has spent decades making history visible. Meiselas doesn’t look—she sees—and her photographs remind us of the importance and power of bearing witness to our world. Documenting strippers in New England carnivals, conflict in Nicaragua and El Salvador, and the plight of the Kurds in the Middle East, her visually stunning work has been the subject of exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and among other institutions.
Meiselas has been widely acclaimed for her ethical approach to photographing social and political turmoil, displaced peoples, and the strength of the human spirit. For her work in Nicaragua documenting the Sandinista revolution, Meiselas was awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal for photographic reporting. Today this series, captured in Nicaragua, June 1978–July 1979 (Pantheon, 1981), is considered a canonical example of photojournalism at its best and has influenced an entire generation of photographers. Meiselas traveled to El Salvador in the 1980s to chronicle the ongoing civil war, and in 1982, one year after her first trip there, was honored with the Leica Award for Excellence. Her photographs played a vital role in preventing the story of the El Mozote massacre from being lost to history. Recognized with a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1992, she subsequently used the funds to create a photographic history of Kurdistan, which she published in Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History (Random House, 1997).
Meiselas received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College, New York, and her MA in visual education at Harvard University. Her journey is captured in the career-spanning publication Susan Meiselas: On the Frontline (Aperture, 2017).