Research Guides

Sean Black Photography

Introduction to the Guide
Sean Black recently returned from a trip to Brazil (December 2020) where he documented trans and HIV issues as well as some Covid-19 issues under Bolsonaro. This guide aims to provide organized access to Sean Black's photographic and video works.
Artist Biography
Sean Black is a Miami-based artist, university educator and journalist working in the fields of social justice and sexual health. His work has been published internationally in the LA Times, Huffington Post, USA Today, NBC News, GQ Brazil, Ebony, The NewStatesman, Stern Magazine,, Playbill, Springer Medizin, and others. He is currently a full-time Lecturer at the University of Miami where he received his MFA in 2013. In addition to his MFA, he holds an MA in Photography from California State University San Bernardino (2009) and a BS degree in Information Technology from Barry University (2004). He has lectured and exhibited nationally. Recent shows include the Society for Photographic Education’s Combined Caucus Exhibition juried by Zackary Drucker (2020), Harvey Milk Photo Center’s Art + Pride Exhibition (2020) and O.X.E.S. Artivismo em Exposicao Exhibition (2019) in collaboration with condom-artist and activist Adriana Bertini, in a quiet protest against the Brazilian Government’s regressive stance on climate change and human rights.

Biographical Information from UM Department of Art and Art History
Human Nature

Click on the image below to access images and text describing Sean Black's project "Human Nature" on the website Lens/cratch: Fine Art Photography Daily. 

Tree Bed, Hobe Sound, Florida 2013 ©Sean Black

Human Nature, “explores the socio-economic dilemma of homelessness. Specifically seeking out those individuals who retreat into the natural terrain, he imbues his approach with a psychological awareness of what Existentialists refer to as ‘the uncanny’. While conveying this uneasy sensation of ‘not-being-at-home’, his images offer hints of the re-creation of domesticity as well as the strangely familiar touchstones of conventional dwelling. By presenting a rich and disarming closeness to his subject matter, he gently invites his audience to reconsider a hidden population and their humble resilience.” 

Photo by Valentina Escotet, one of Sean Black's students at the University of Miami.
Social Media
Web Resources and Interviews
Visual AIDS: This website provides biographical information, a photo gallery of a selection of Sean Black's photographs, as well as access to his CV.

The Digital News Reporting blog run by students in the Journalism and Media Management Department at the University of Miami's School of Communication reports on Sean Black's graduate thesis work, “Human Nature & The Oblivion of Being,” which explores the issue of homelessness, and his exhibitions, and engagement in social activism. Excerpt: "Black describes his work as being “evocative,” he struggles to find that moment or interaction that describes the personality of the person instead of just photographing their image."(Written December 2013 by Danielle Cohen)

Sean Black's Official Website: A website created by Sean Black featuring photo galleries of a variety of his past and recent works.

What's Up Miami blog post featuring Sean Black's "Human Nature" project and exhibition information
Visit the website of photographer Erika Gentry to view images from the 2014 collaboration with Sean Black called Recovered, Revealed. Excerpt: "Understanding that each card is a museum of lost, forgotten, or deliberately destroyed images, Black and Gentry use a controversial technology to retrieve the images—sometimes reconstructing them pixel by pixel to reveal a fractured, decontextualized moment. Equal parts accidental voyeurs and digital detectives, Black and Gentry gather erased images of lives they will never know and present them to the viewer in a collection that navigates ethical questions of privacy and rights of representation that have followed photography from its naissance to today."
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Gilda Santana

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Brazilian Cultural and Transgender Health Documentary Research Project
Research Statement

In December 2020, I traveled to Brazil with several missions in mind. The first mission was to reconnect with old friends and colleagues in the fight against stigma related to HIV/AIDS and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ people (particularly the trans community). I have worked with condom artist Adriana Bertini who works with the NGO Barong for many years. I traveled with her to rural communities outside of her home base of Sáo Paolo to interview and photograph transgender individuals as well as document HIV/AIDS testing and outreach.

With Brazil's HIV/AIDS response beset by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the antiscience approach from president Jair Bolsonaro, civil society organizations are picking up the slack, even as funds from international donors dwindle. The Barong Cultural Institute, formed in 1996 in São Paulo and working across 50 municipalities nationwide, has long sought to bring a holistic and non-judgmental approach to HIV/AIDS outreach in Brazil, as part of a wider strategy to promote sexual and reproductive health education.

The second mission was to document how COVID19 has impacted Brazilian communities and their response. 3. I wanted to bring back recent work which could be useful to both Professor Steve Butterman and his work with transgender refugees and for students of the University of Miami who do scholarly research work in many areas including Human Rights law at the Otto G. Richter Library in its repository of culturally sensitive holdings.

Daniels, Joe Parkin. "Barong: Reaching out to Where Things Happen in Brazil." The Lancet HIV 7.12 (2020). Vol.7 (12), 80

Acquisition Information: Project Contents
  • 98 full resolution JPEG digital images
  • Set of 30 selected digital C prints (Noritsu/R4) on 11”x 14” Kodak Endura professional photographic papers.
  • 12 Audiovisual files
  • Collection of ephemera 
Selection of Photographs from Brazil Project
Selected images of ephemera from Brazil

Travel Photography: Cuba
Click on the image below to access the full online gallery of travel photography on Sean Black's official website.

Mexico City: An Enchanting Trip Through Time

"Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to visit Mexico City and this past Christmas I finally made this dream come true. Traveling on Christmas Day from Miami, a simple three-hour flight, I immediately set off on my adventure hailing an airport cab and taking a scenic, half-hour drive into one of the many breathtaking neighborhoods of one of North America’s oldest cities. Upon arrival to maximize time and to get my bearings, I purchased a pass aboard a double-decker bus with on-and-off service running frequently along the Paseo de la Reforma, a magnificent central boulevard bustling with dog-walkers and passersby in open markets amid looming skyscrapers. Mesmerized visitors and young families were heading to sights such as the Jardin Botanico, the National Zoo, Chapultepec Castle, and museums such as Museo Nacional de Antropologia and the Museo de Arte Moderno with the iconic masterpiece Las dos Fridas (The Two Fridas) by Frida Kahlo on display. The destination corridor is towered over by the gold-gilded Angel of Independence with displays of pinatas and nacimientos (nativities) this time of the year celebrating the birth of Christ and enmeshing both religious and secular cultures.  This cosmopolitan district normally abuzz with heavy business traffic was at a surprisingly peaceful standstill with locals off to beach and country homes during the festive season. I was free to roam the vibrant, colorful and electric avenues taking in the sights of one of the most populous cities in the world with a remarkable 22 million inhabitants. There was so much I didn’t know about Mexico City for example; Mexico City boasts the second-highest number of museums in the world next to Paris. In fact, Mexico City was modernized in the same manner of Paris under Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann in the mid 19th Century. The opulent exterior of The Palacio de Bellas Artes exemplifies the architectural influence of the French in Art Noveau and Neoclassical styles with a train system erected shortly thereafter including Mexico City in the modernization progress of the Industrial Revolution. In short distance is the oldest forest in the Americas (Bosque Chapultepec) which is twice the size of New York City's Central Park. 

One of the highlights for me was a guided tour to the the Pyramid of the Sun (not for the faint of heart) and then onto the shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the preeminent Mexican national landmark dating back to the 17th Century. The Basilica honoring the matriarch embodies deep national sentiment and attracts millions of pilgrims to both its (old) Antigua Basilica (1695–1709) and its (new) circular Nueva Basilica each year. Another special highlight was a personally guided tour by my good friend and colleague Lecturer here at the University of Miami’s Art and Art History Department, Gerardo Olhovich, a brilliant painter and a native of Mexico City who guided me on a private ghost tour, treated me to epicurean delights of the artsy Coyoacan neighborhood and led me on a stroll through the upscale artist’s colony of San Angel. Mexico city is definitely one of the most romantic and vibrant cities in the world; a splendid and enchanting trip through time." 

Text courtesy of Sean Black, University of Miami Department of Art and Art History

Mexico: Online Gallery

Click on any of the images below to access the full online gallery of Sean Black's Mexico City photographs.

Early Action - COVID19 Metro Miami Mask Project
A recent project by Sean Black of portraits of masked figures in Miami. Visit the website LensCulture to view the entire gallery of images. 


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