About the Guest
Melissa Bunni Elian & Ashima Yadava
Melissa Bunni Elian (b. 1987) is a multimedia journalist based in Yonkers, NY. Since graduating from SUNY Albany in 2010 her work has been published in Glamour.com, ESPN.com, New York Times, NYT Magazine, NPR and The Washington Post. She has created content for the United Nations and companies like Google, who commissioned her in 2017 for the Lynching in America Project created by the Equal Justice Initiative. Her personal work focuses on stories from the African Diaspora, social justice and issues of structural inequality. Bunni, as she is known, a founding member of the Bronx Photo League whose first book, The Jerome Avenue Workers Project, was named one of the top 50 photography books by American Photo Magazine in 2016. In 2017, her images were included in the critically acclaimed inaugural edition of Mfon, Women Photographers of the African Diaspora.
Bunni is working on her master’s thesis at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in New York City where she is exploring multiple branches of storytelling. Her master’s project explores systemic racism through the lens of systems thinking. In December 2017, she was awarded a grant from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting for a reporting trip to South Africa to document the evolution and spread of Afropunk from a music festival into a social and political movement of acceptance, self-love and resistance across the African Diaspora.
Bunni is passionate about representation in media on both sides of the camera and is a member of Women Photograph, Native Agency and Diversify Photo. She is a board member of Authority Collective and Secretary of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Visual Task Force.
Born and raised in New Delhi, India, Ashima Yadava currently lives in San Francisco, California. She works in digital and analog methods including medium, and 4×5 large format. With the camera as her conduit, Ashima believes in art as a means of social activism and reform. Her work is rooted in documentary practice with a keen focus on issues of gender equality, race, and social justice. She recently graduated from the International Center of Photographer where was a Director’s Fellow. Ashima is now a proud member of the Authority Collective.