Maria Varela is a community activist, photographer, and veteran of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). After working as a SNCC photographer, Maria organized rural communities in New Mexico and the Southwest to create culturally sustainable economic enterprises to help reduce poverty and loss of ancestral lands. She was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship for this work. Maria has been a Visiting Documentarian and Activist at Duke during 2016, working on the SNCC Digital Gateway Project.
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