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“Her Words Her Word as Witness: Portraits of Women Writers of the African Diaspora” is a new exhibit created by photographer Laylah Amatullah Barrayn to “pay homage” to some of the writers who she says fed her with their words. “I wanted to thank them for offering so much of themselves. I wanted to share their image with the world,” Barrayn told Loop21.

On display until March 31 at the Skylight Gallery of the Center for Arts & Culture in Brooklyn, are portraits of 36 contemporary writers, like Kierna Mayo, poet Sonia Sanchez, and novelist Edwidge Danticat. Barrayn says she took more than 400 shots to make sure her images were the perfect combination of photojournalism and portraiture.

“Writers are represented by their words, and rarely do we know how they look. We could walk past out favorite writer in the store and not know it. I wanted to focus on women writers because I found their stories and plights to be so intriguing.” she says. “Honestly, this project is deeply personal, most of the writers I chose are writers whose work I really love and admire, they’ve touched my life, validated me, educated me and I’m impressed by their brilliance and fearlessness.”

Check out a sampling of the photos and the rest of Laylah Amatullah Barrayn’s interview on Loop21.

What do you think of Barrayn’s exhibit? Are you familiar with the work of the writers in her portraits?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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