Bill Gaskins is Founding Director of the Photography + Media & Society MFA and uniquely suited to guide and support thought-leading producers of contemporary visual, material, and media culture. His depth of experience represents a rich tapestry of practice, teaching, research, and writing on photography and media as a vital social mirror and visual phenomenon.

Bill Gaskins

Before his role at MICA, Bill Gaskins has been a faculty member at Cornell University, Parsons School of Design, University of Missouri, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is an informed and inspired professor, acknowledged by students and peers for his innovative teaching and bold curricular vision as a winner of the University Distinguished Teaching Award at the New School University, the Elaine Jacobs Endowed Chair in Art at Wayne State University, and the Watts Prize for Faculty Excellence at the Cornell University Department of Art.

Bill Gaskins explores the myth and realities of American life and the image of African American people through his work in photography, video, and non-fiction writing. He is the author of the groundbreaking monograph, Good & Bad Hair: Photographs by Bill Gaskins, and the inventive short film The Meaning of Hope. Gaskins’ relevance as a contemporary artist has garnered attention through solo and group exhibitions at major venues including the Crocker Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, and The Smithsonian Institution.

His depth and breadth of experience is a rich tapestry of practice that merges the visual and liberal arts through the history of art and photography, American and African American Studies, photography, video, and non-fiction writing. His essays and photographs have appeared in a variety of journals, magazines, anthologies, exhibition catalogs, and other publications, including, NKA; Journal of Contemporary African Art, Artsy, Aperture, Nature, and The New Yorker Magazine.

Sasha Phyars-Burgess headshot

Sasha Phyars-Burgess


Sasha Phyars-Burgess was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Trinidadian parents and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Bard college in 2010 with a BA in Photography and earned her MFA from Cornell University. Phyars-Burgess is interested in using photography education as community empowerment within the African diaspora and has spent extensive time in Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Germany, France, England, Brooklyn, New York, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Sasha Phyars-Burgess is a former Laundromat Project Fellow, 2015 artist in residence at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, Artist in Residence at the Allentown Art Museum in 2017, the 2018 Diane Dammeyer Fellow for Photographic Arts. She is the 2020 winner of the Capricious Book Prize. Her book of photographs Untitled by Sasha Phyars-Burgess is the 2021 winner of the Aperture Foundation First Book Prize.

Shane Lavalette


Shane Lavalette is a photographer and Co-founder of Assembly. He holds a BFA from Tufts University in partnership with The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Lavallette’s photographs have been shown widely, including exhibitions at the High Museum of Art, Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Aperture Foundation, Montserrat College of Art, The Carpenter Center for Visual Arts at Harvard University, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, Kaunas Gallery, Le Château d’Eau, Fotostiftung Schweiz, Musée de l’Elysée, and Robert Morat Galerie, in addition to being held in private and public collections. Lavalette is the author of four award-winning monographs: One Sun, One Shadow (Lavalette, 2016), Still (Noon) (Edition Patrick Frey, 2018), LOST, Syracuse (Kris Graves Projects, 2019), and New Monuments (Libraryman, 2019). Lavallette’s work has been featured by The New York Times, TIME, NPR, CNN, The Telegraph, Aperture, Foam Magazine, Hotshoe, among others, and his editorial work has accompanied stories in various publications, including The New York Times Magazine, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Esquire, Bloomberg Businessweek, Curbed, Vice Magazine, The Wire, Wallpaper, Monocle, The Guardian, and ZEITmagazine. Robert Morat Galerie represents Lavalette in Berlin and We Folk agency in London/New York.