Photo Stories from the Square Mile Initiative

June 13, 2024
11:00–12:15PM EDT
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Cancer-free, Riley sits atop a white horse while wearing a princess dress, fulfilling her request for a final portrait. Riley had undergone radiation treatment and surgery during her two-year battle against Stage 4 Wilms Tumor, a form of childhood cancer that affects the kidneys. Feb. 24, 2021. © Doug Barrett.

This series showcases recent work from members of VII Community, in partnership with PhotoWings.

Every few months, VII Insider invites photographers from VII Community to present their stories. In this episode, we look at three photographers whose work is featured in “Square Mile” at the Photoville Festival.

VII Community provides ongoing education and support to a network of VII Academy alumni and Foundry Photojournalism Workshop participants. VII Community is a program of The VII Foundation in partnership with PhotoWings.

Square Mile is an initiative that presents diverse photographic explorations by members of VII Community. It is a geographic framework, signifying a local focus on spaces where personal, local, and global influences intersect. The projects explore how themes such as climate change, identity, history, legacy, migration, gender, and environment appear within a local perspective.

We are delighted to be joined by Peruvian photographer Alejandra Orosco, who presents her project “ Only Memories Do Not Drown”, highlighting the 1978 story of El Peñol, a town whose residents were compelled to relocate because of a hydroelectric project that would eventually supply 30% of Colombia’s population with energy.

Doug Barrett is an American photographer who will discuss his series “Riley’s Cancel Journey.” Seven-year-old Riley Simmons faced WilmsTumor, a rare form of kidney cancer. Doug documented the emotions that Riley and her family experienced as they began their courageous battle for survival.

Nepalese photographer Uma Bista showcases “ Stay Home, Sisters,” a personal project that addresses taboos surrounding menstruation. During ‘Chhaupadi,’ each month, women in Western Nepal are subjected to a ritual of isolation. Deemed impure, they are forced to stay in cowsheds.

The event will be moderated by VII contributing photographer Espen Rasmussen.

A portrait of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from El Peñol, Colombia, is submerged in water as part of the artist's project "Sólo los recuerdos no se ahogan" ("Only Memories Do Not Drown"). Between 2017 and 2018, artist Alejandra Orosco physically manipulated photographs — sourced from the collection of the Museo Histórico El Peñol — to distort the appearance of those portrayed. The submersion process symbolizes the impact of the flooding caused by the construction of the Peñol-Guatapé Hydroelectric Project in 1978. © Alejandra Orosco.
In the late evening, the photographer captures a self-portrait on a rooftop. This image is part of Bista's series "Stay Home, Sisters," which explores the taboo surrounding menstruation and the oppression women face in Nepal. 2020, Kathmandu, Nepal. © Uma Bista.


Alejandra Orosco is a communicator and photographer based in the Sacred Valley ,Cusco, Peru. She currently works for international media and co-directs Maleza, an Arts Center in Urubamba, Cusco
Doug Barrett lives and works in Kansas. His documentary work investigates the American social landscape, often focusing on race, class, and cultural identity themes. His editorial clients include Bloomberg News, TIME Magazine, National Geographic, Politico, The New York Times and others.
Espen Rasmussen lives close to Oslo, Norway. He focuses especially on humanitarian issues and works as a photo editor at Norway’s largest news magazine, VG Helg. He has won numerous awards for his work, including three prizes from the World Press Photo, first place in Sony World Photography Awards, several in the Picture of the Year international, and 45 awards in the Norwegian Picture of the Year.
Uma Bista is a Nepalese photographer who uses her camera to capture visual stories that address gender inequality. She has worked for local newspapers and exhibited nationally and internationally, including Breda Photo Festival, Chobi Mela, Photoville, and others.

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