Susan Meiselas

American, b. 1948

Susan Meiselas received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and her M.A. in visual education from Harvard University. Her first major photographic essay focused on the lives of women doing striptease at New England country fairs. She photographed the carnivals during three consecutive summers while teaching photography in the New York public schools. CARNIVAL STRIPPERS was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1976. A selection was installed at the Whitney Museum of Art in June 2000. The original book was revised and reprinted by the Whitney Museum and Steidl Verlag in 2003.

Meiselas joined Magnum Photos in 1976 and has worked as a freelance photographer since then. She is best known for her coverage of the insurrection in Nicaragua and her documentation of human rights issues in Latin America, which were published widely throughout the world. In 1981, Pantheon published her second monograph, NICARAGUA, JUNE 1978-JULY 1979 which was reprinted by Aperture, fall 2008.

Meiselas served as an editor and contributor to the book EL SALVADOR: THE WORK OF THIRTY PHOTOGRAPHERS (Writers & Readers, 1983) and edited CHILE FROM WITHIN (W.W. Norton, 1991) featuring work by photographers living under the Pinochet regime. She has co-directed two films: “Living at Risk: The Story of a Nicaraguan Family” (1986) and "Pictures from a Revolution" (1991) with Richard P. Rogers and Alfred Guzzetti. In 1997, she completed a six year project curating a 100 year photographic history of Kurdistan, and integrating her own work into the book entitled KURDISTAN: IN THE SHADOW OF HISTORY (Random House, 1997; reprinted by the University of Chicago Press, 2008). Meiselas then created the website,, an online archive of collective memory; as well as an exhibition that launched at the Menil Collection in Houston, and traveled for eight years to several venues in the United States and Europe

Her 2001 monograph, PANDORA'S BOX (Magnum Editions/Trebruk) which explores a New York S & M club, has been exhibited both at home and abroad. In 2003, ENCOUNTERS WITH THE DANI was featured as an installation in the International Center of Photography's Triennial "Strangers" and co-published by ICP/Steidl Verlag. The book explores a 60 year history of outsiders’ discovery and interactions with the Dani, an indigenous people of the highlands of Papua in Indonesia.

Meiselas has had one-woman exhibitions in Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. Her work is included in American and international collections. Honorary awards of recognition include: the Robert Capa Gold Medal for “outstanding courage and reporting” by the Overseas Press Club for her work in Nicaragua (1979); the Leica Award for Excellence (1982); the Engelhard Award from the Institute of Contemporary Art (1985); the Maria Moors Cabot Prize from Columbia University for her coverage of Latin America (1994); the Hasselblad Foundation Photography prize (1994) and most recently, the Cornell Capa Infinity Award (2005). In 1992, she was named a MacArthur Fellow. 



1970       Bachelor of Arts, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY, USA
1971       Master of Arts (Visual Education,) Harvard University, USA
1986       Honorary Doctor in Fine Arts, Parsons School of Art, New York, USA
1996       Honorary Doctor in Fine Arts, The Art Institute of Boston, USA


2005       Cornell Capa Infinity Award, ICP, New York, USA
1995       Rockefeller Foundation, Multi-Media Fellowship
1994       Hasselblad Foundation Photography Prize, Goteborg, Sweden
1994       Maria Moors Cabot Prize, Columbia Journalism School, NY, USA
1992       MacArthur Fellow, USA
1987       Lyndhurst Foundation
1985       Engelhard Award, Institute of Contemporary Art
1984       Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts, USA
1982       Photojournalist of the Year Award from the American Society of Media Photographers
1982       Leica Award for Excellence
1979       Robert Capa Gold Medal, Overseas Press Club


2008       Susan Meiselas, In History, ICP, New York, USA
2006       Open Eye, Liverpool, UK
2004       Scout Gallery, London, UK
2004       Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago, USA
2004       Rose Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
2003       FOAM, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
2002       Canal de Isabel II, Madrid, Spain
2000       Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA
1998       Leica Gallery, New York, USA
1994       Hasselblad Center, Goteborg, Sweden
1990       Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
1984       Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany
1982       Camerawork, London, UK
1982       Side Gallery, Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK
1981       FNAC Gallery, Paris, France
1977       AM Sachs Gallery, New York, New York, USA


Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA 
Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA 
Hasselblad Center, Sweden
Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany 
Birmingham Museum of Art, Al, USA 
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA 
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, SF, USA
The Art Institute of Chicago, USA
St. Louis Museum of Art, USA
Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, USA
George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, USA 
Fogg Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Ma., USA
University of California, Riverside, USA 
Baltimore Museum of Art, USA
Haverford College, Pennsylvania, USA 
International Center of Photography, NYC, USA 


2003       Encounters with the Dani, ICP/Steidl Verlag, USA/Germany
2001       Pandora’s Box, Magnum Editions/Trebruk, Denmark
1997       Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History, Random House, USA
1990       Chile From Within, W.W. Norton, USA
1983       El Salvador: The Work of 30 Photographers, Pantheon, USA
1981       Nicaragua, June 1978 - July 1979, Pantheon, USA
1976/03  Carnival Strippers, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, USA; Steidl, Germany
1975       Learn to See (a collaboration with the Polaroid Corporation), Polaroid Foundation, USA


1991       Pictures from a Revolution, co-directed & co-produced with A.Guzzetti & R.P. Rogers,
              distributed by Kino International
1985       Living at Risk, co-directed & co-produced with A.Guzzetti  & R. P. Rogers, 
              distributed by New Yorker Films
              Voyages, directed by M. Karlin, writing & photography by Meiselas, produced for
              Channel 4,  England