Emily Schiffer

Cheyenne River
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Nationality: USA
Biography: Emily Schiffer is a photographer and mixed media artist interested in the intersection between art, community engagement, and social change. She is a Co-founder and Creative Director of We, Women ,  the largest social impact photography... read on

In 2005, I founded a photography program for young people on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota, USA. In this ongoing program, my students and I are all subjects of each other's work. Our favorite locations are the fields and abandoned buildings on the fringes of town, forgotten places thick with the past that lend themselves to imaginary games and textured photographs. Children have a unique ability to experience love, joy, and pain simultaneously, without compartmentalizing their experiences. I aim to convey this complexity. My images explore play as a vehicle through which youth reveal and negotiate the forces in their lives. Empowered by the safety of their small town, children explore freely and develop a community of young people that operates largely without adult intervention. I have chosen to focus on children's relationships with their environment and with each other, because it is an essential part of life on the reservation that is often overlooked by both residents and outsiders.

When I became a mother, my relationship to this project and place shifted.  I see the other children's struggles and triumphs reflected in my daughter. The kids that I photographed over the course of 12 years are now adults and old friends. Our children play together, and my daughter now appears in our images. I photograph my daughter as an insider, as her mother, in a context where, despite close friendships, we are still outsiders.


Also by Emily Schiffer —


Staying Home

By Emily Schiffer / Brooklyn, NY — Ongoing coverage of my home life during the Covid-19 pandemic. More images are available upon request.


By Emily Schiffer


By Emily Schiffer / Array


By Emily Schiffer — Unposed images of my family record the relationships where I have most at stake. I explore the space..


By Emily Schiffer / New York, Boston, Cameroon, Italy — This work, shown alongside "Haul" and "Impressions from 2016" reimagines the concept of a family album to..

Haul: Gift to My Daughter

By Emily Schiffer — This sculptural work considers photography's role in the creation of family narratives. Hanging from the..

Cheyenne River

By Emily Schiffer — In 2005, I started a photography program for young people on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota...

Carrying History

By Emily Schiffer — Recently, the Danube region has seen war, sanctions, invasions, occupations, and communist rule. This work..
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