By Amy Matzke-Fawcett

The last virtual event in a series dedicated to telling the stories of Native Americans over the past 400 years through photography, and the national release of the follow-up publications, will debut at Old Dominion University in early November.

The collection, called "The 400 Years Project" launches nationally during the conversation with two longtime National Geographic photo editors - Sarah Leen and Elizabeth Krist - at 4 p.m. Nov. 5, co-hosted by the University and WHRO. Leen was the first female photo director at National Geographic, and Krist brings over 20 years of experience as a National Geographic photo editor.

The project made its virtual debut at ODU in September and depicts the evolution of Native American identities, rights and representation since the Mayflower's arrival 400 years ago this November. As one of the largest photographic collections created largely by Native American artists, "The 400 Years Project" features the work of eight artists who have created complex and original stories of identity across North America.

The two prior conversations in the series, also hosted by ODU, are available through the Women's Studies Department.

"This project reimagines the landscapes and livelihoods of Native American survival over the past 400 years, with a collective focus on the power of visual imagery as a vital tool of empathy. Its intention is particularly urgent in our existing political, social, and environmental moment," said Jennifer Fish, professor and chair of the Department of Women's Studies.

Organizers of the event say that as the United States and England plan 400-year anniversary celebrations of the Mayflower's voyage, it is critical to provide a narrative that recognizes the devastating effects of colonization for Native nations and also celebrates resilience and contemporary cultural diversity of indigenous populations throughout North America.

And while the Nov. 5 event is the last in the series, it is part of a larger vision that includes national outreach. Project co-producers Sarah Stacke and Brian Adams will be present to discuss the national release of "The 400 Years Project" through a dedicated website, book and a series of exhibitions that expand the stories of Native American identities and survival.

During the Nov. 5 conversation, artists Ash Adams, Kali Spitzer and Madison Hye will share their work as three of eight photographers in the national project. Additionally, this conversation showcases the work of co-hosts Leen and Krist, who co-founded the Visual Thinking Collective as a way to support artists and the creative production process.

The project is co-sponsored by Friends of Women's Studies, the Institute for Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding, the Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs, the Women's Center, the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, and the Institute for the Humanities.

To attend, please register in advance on Zoom. Contact the Women's Studies Department for more information at or by calling 757-683-3823.

For updates on the forthcoming book, exhibition and programs, follow the project on Instagram @400yearsproject.

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