Andrea Patiño Contreras, a native from Bogota, Colombia, graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in cultural anthropology and a certificate in policy journalism. While at Duke, Andrea became deeply fascinated by photography, both as a practice and as a theoretical subject. She engaged in multiple photo documentary projects. In 2010, as a recipient of the John Hope Franklin Student Documentary Award from the Center of Documentary Studies at Duke, Andrea photographed slave castles in Ghana and explored the relationship between these spaces, tourists and locals. A year later she traveled to the West Bank, Palestine, as the photography intern for Students of the World. There, she documented the work of Tomorrow’s Youth Organization, an NGO that works with Palestinian women and children. Simultaneously, through the Visual Studies Fellowship at Duke University, she conducted research about the role of photography in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This culminated in her senior thesis, which examines the role of photography in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and its potential to become an alternative political platform.
At Duke, Andrea combined her profound passion for photography and storytelling with civic engagement. This interest took her to Apopka, Florida, where she worked with undocumented immigrants. She has also written for different student publications about immigration and race, topics that she feels passionate about.
Regarding the Lewis Hine Documentary Fellowship, Andrea says, “Photography has given me a more nuanced understanding of the world and has made me realize that it is the human connections that this medium facilitates that remain most vibrant in our hearts and minds. This wonderful opportunity will allow me to take this belief even further: I want to explore how photographs can effectively trigger tangible changes in our society.”