Kamal Badhey is a photographer, educator and visual urbanist from New York. She has focused on ideas of dispersal, diaspora and origin pilgrimages, using photography and the narratives of places, people, and objects to stitch together stories. Her work and sense of home follows the childhood saying told to her in Telugu, ’Katha kanchiki, manam intiki’, ‘The story goes far far away, and now we are back in our homes’. Her project Portals and Passageways is part of a collection of photographs from a reconstructed family album. They are based on the collective story of her extended family in Secunderabad, India, starting with her oldest known ancestor and great great grandfather, jeweler Annam Rathnaiah.
Kamal’s work in the Exhibitions Program at the Center for Documentary Studies with Courtney Reid-Eaton allowed her to re-envision the documentary canon. She received her MA in Photography and Urban Cultures from Goldsmiths, University of London and her MS in Museum and General Education from Bank Street College. She has engaged with a variety of communities, but her most significant experience was as a visual arts teacher at Cypress Hills Community School in Brooklyn, New York, where she taught for seven years. Teaching art allowed her to create opportunities for spontaneity, pure expression, and dialogue as well as share agency with her students. Her belief is that places of safety and creativity allow people to build on their strengths while creating a deep sense of autonomy. She says the Hine Fellowship gives her the opportunity to listen deeply, as well as bridge her love for people, storytelling and photography.