In Cousins, Kristen Joy Emack explores the innocence and intimacy of girlhood. Photographing for over a decade, the artist pictured her daughter and three nieces as they grew into themselves, chronicling their developing relationships, maturing confidence, and expanding worlds. Over the course of the project it became collaborative, as the girls began posing and presenting themselves to the camera, aware of their role within the frame.

A sense of communion permeates the series as dangling arms, small hands, and braided heads fit perfectly together. Beyond each other, through their poses and presence the girls integrate into the landscape, harmonious with the patterned shadows, rippling water, and curved branches that surround them. An intuitive bodily connection and shared emotional and spiritual knowledge bonds the girls together. Cousins offers a glimpse into the under-examined world of young girls of color, powerful in their relationships and secured in each other’s connecting presence.

About the artist: Kristen Joy Emack is a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow, a MacDowell Fellow, a Saint Botolph Fellow and a Massachusetts Cultural Arts Fellow. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, in both galleries and photo festivals, and has been published in magazines including Vogue Italia, National Geographic, OATH, The Horn Book and The Sun. She has lectured at multiple universities including Harvard, Hofstra and Boston University, and her work is in multiple private collections and institutions in the US and Europe. Emack has recently released her first monograph, Cousins, published by L’ARTIERE in Italy. Kristen is a public school educator who lives and works in Cambridge, Massachusetts.