Hard To Place


Artist: Qiana Mestrich

Self Published, printed by Conveyor Arts, 2016
60 pages, perfect bound paperback, 6 x 8.5 in.

Selected by CDCC Curatorial Programs Coordinator Liz Ikiriko

Hard To Place by Qiana Mestrich is a true story about race, family and the child welfare system in post-war Britain.

Combining confidential, UK government documentation with archival and (auto)biographical photography, this series traces the experience of Joseph, an orphan boy of Nigerian and Irish parentage growing up in 1960s/70s London. As a “half-cast(e)” child, in England, Joseph was considered “hard to place” amongst the mostly white, adoptive families.

"Joseph is my husband. On our first date he nervously told me his life story, continuously pulling at his sleeves to hide the ink of bad decisions made during his teenage years as a black skinhead. The little boy seen in Hard To Place is our son. The images in the book provide a visual alternative to the official, master narrative of child welfare that many mixed-race children are imprisoned by."

About the Artist:
Qiana Mestrich is a photographer, writer, digital marketer and mother living and working in Brooklyn, NY. In 2007, Mestrich founded the blog Dodge & Burn: Decolonizing Photography History. Featuring interviews with and profiles of photographers of color, the blog advocates for a more inclusive version of photography history, featuring contributions to the medium by and about underrepresented cultures. Mestrich is currently writing a book based on the blog to be published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis.

Mestrich's critical writing has been published in art journals like En Foco’s Nueva Luz, ARC Magazine and SPE’s exposure. She is also co-editor of the book How We Do Both: Art and Motherhood (Secretary Press), a diverse collection of honest responses from contemporary artists who have walked—and are still walking—the tenuous tightrope of motherhood and making art. 

A graduate of the ICP-Bard College MFA in Advanced Photographic Practice, Mestrich received her B.A. with a concentration in photography from Sarah Lawrence College. She was most recently the Associate Director, Digital Content and Engagement at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York and as of 2017 serves as adjunct faculty in the Computer Graphics department at the Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY).

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