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Three Generations of Black Women in Family Photos

In an elegant room, in front of a shadowy and dramatic alcove, sits a woman dressed in a billowing red garment. Her feet are planted firmly on the ground. She stares with determination at the camera. A young girl stands next to her.

The stately photograph was taken not in a historic palace but in a contemporary Brooklyn apartment. It depicts the mother and daughter of the artist Nona Faustine, subjects of a current photo-series, “Mitochondria,” which documents and celebrates the lives of three generations of African-American women living under one roof.

Ms. Faustine began the series in 2008, photographing herself and some of the women close to her: her mother, Queen Elizabeth Simmons; her sister, Channon Simmons; and her daughter, Queen Ming. The women’s shared living situation speaks to the strength of their familial bond and their interdependent destinies.

Formal portraits and the more candid images in “Mitochondria” portray Ms. Faustine and her relatives as they want to be seen: an attentive grandmother cuddling with her giggling granddaughter; a portrait of the child in Halloween costume; a pensive image of mother and sleeping daughter in profile; a close-up of the torso of the pregnant artist; a portrait of her stylish sister on the beach; the little girl, back to the camera, her long tresses “encoded” with the cultural meaning of hair, as Ms. Faustine observed...

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