Cyanotype made in hand-embroidered cotton fabric with various native medicinal herbs from Mexico such as Pericón branches and flowers

Cinthya Santos Briones, Pericón (2021). Cyanotype made in hand-embroidered cotton fabric with various native medicinal herbs from Mexico such as Pericón branches and flowers, orange tree leaves and lemongrass. 15 x 19 in.

Cinthya Santos Briones is a visual artist and educator with Nahua roots based in New York. She grew up in Tulancingo, a town nestled among mountains and valleys surrounded by Nahua, Otomi, and Tepehua indigenous communities in Mexico. She studied Ethnohistory and Anthropology, and for ten years, she conducted research on indigenous migration, codices, textiles, and traditional medicine at the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico.
As an artist, her work focuses on a multidisciplinary social practice that combines participatory art and the construction of collective narratives. Through various non-linear narrative media, she juxtaposes photography with historical archives, writing, ethnography, drawings, collage, embroidery, and popular education. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Photography from Ithaca-Cornell University, as well as a certificate in Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism from the International Center of Photography (ICP). She is currently an adjunct professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Since 2022, she has been a visiting artist at Columbia University.
"Abuelas," her first photographic work, prioritizes representation and addresses the intimacy and identity of undocumented migrant women in NYC, it was published in the New York Times and Vogue. Through her "Living in Sanctuary" project, she worked with refugee migrant families in churches across various U.S. cities (2017-2019) to halt deportations. Her documentary projects have received support from Magnum Foundation, National Geographic Research and Exploration, We Woman, and En Foco. In 2023, she participated in the photography triennial at the Museum of NYC and obtained residencies at Bric Contemporary Art, Wave Hill, and the Mellon Fellowship at the Hemispheric Institute in NYC. As a writer, her texts have been published in academic and journalistic magazines such as NACLA, The Nation, and the newspaper La Jornada in Mexico.

Since 2020, I have been developing Migrant Herbalism, where I investigate the diversity of medicinal herbs that have migrated due to the forced displacement of Mexicans to the United States. I document and share the ritual knowledge offered by traditional healers to heal physically and spiritually with herbs and therapies—as a response to the inequality of access to medical services—using alternative cameraless photography techniques, ancient codices, oral history, community workshops with women to compile knowledge, DIY books, and embroidery.

About BRIClab

Contemporary Art is an interdisciplinary, community-oriented residency program that provides emerging and early-career artists with studio space and professional support to develop and advance their practice