iyana Esters


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All rights reserved ©2018-2024 Iyana Esters and/or stated publication. Nothing contained within this ENTIRE site or ANy PAGE may NOT be used in any form without written permission. No photos, audio, video or text are within the Public Domain.


iyana Esters


Iyana Esters is a visual storyteller from the United States. She received her B.S. in Community Health Sciences from the University of Nevada, Reno and her M.P.H. in Behavioral, Social, and Community Health from Indiana University and is a folk herbalist practicing Afro and Indigenous ancestral healing. Iyana also has experience in photo research and editing.

She combines art with her background in folk herbalism and environmental health, using photography as a lens of storytelling to capture human’s connection with nature. Esters experiments with a multitude of photographic processes including documentary, natural plant materials, archival research and photo mural projects, with an emphasis on highlighting stories about gender, sexuality, and ancestry in the Black + Afrodiaspora.

Iyana has been a part of solo and group exhibitions with renowned Minnesotan photographer Wing Young Huie, and has shown her work at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, the Social Documentary Network, the Lilley Museum of Art, Reno City Hall, and public art with the Wedekind Road Art Project and the Holland Project Gallery with upcoming solo exhibitions at the Coleman Center for the Arts and Nevada Humanities. She has taught photography to children and adolescents in Latin America and has held artist talks and workshops and is a member of Black Women Photographers and an UP NEXT candidate with Diversify Photo.



iyana Esters

Birthed from the soil is a photo affair presenting a multidimensional portrait of Yawah A. Awolowo, aka Mama Yawah, a farmer, plant-based food chef, and midwife from the Black Belt of Alabama who is working with the earth with ancestral knowledge as she seeks for healing while tending to her community.

Portrait of Mama Yawah gazing into the sky, 2023.

Mama Yawah embracing a squash picked from her yard, 2023.

(Top) Mama Yawah speaking with female master farmers Naomi (l) and Dr. Ina (r) from Georgia, 2023.

(Bottom) The demonstration site is located on the multigenerational farm made of bamboo in Alabama, 2023.


iyana Esters

Muslin cloths hanging on the clothesline to dry after Mama Yawah made cold pressed juice. 2023.


iyana Esters

Debuted at the Lilley Museum of Art, Birthed from the soil is a traveling photo exhibition incorporating alternative photography, plant materials, textiles, and quotes.

iyana Esters



iyana Esters

HOME: Wedekind Road Art Project, 2023.

The Wedekind Road Art Project Community Gallery 2023 is a series of 61 mini murals, each 12 square feet in size, showing what “home” means to Northeast Reno. Forty-one of the mini murals were painted by residents throughout the neighborhood, and 20 are photo murals created by Esters using archival photos paying homage to Black Americans of Northeast Reno from the 1950s to the 1990s. During the late 1940s, as part of the second Great Migration, Black Americans moved from the South to the West, finding better living conditions in places like Northeast Reno. Iyana, who served as the project's photo researcher and muralist, expects the installation to be completed in late winter or early spring of 2024.

Behind the scenes of Iyana and the WRAP team applying coating to all mini-mural and archival image panels for the 2024 installation.

When the Black woman is in nature, she is her purest self, 2022.


iyana Esters

The principle photo When the Black woman is in nature, she is her purest self, shows the respectable admiration of Black/Afro femininity coexisting with Mama Earth in her many elements, such as breasts being a source of life's water [breastmilk], while being motifs of outer and inner peace and showing how we mirror one another regardless our stance.

When the Black woman is in nature, she is her purest self, 2022.

In 2023 this When the Black woman is in nature she is her purest self photo was shown as part of the group exhibition Co-Lab at Lilley Museum of Art at the University of Nevada Reno, where artists respond to other artists' works.


iyana Esters

Response to José Luis Cuevas, Papeles de Salazar, 1983 and Pablo Picasso, Celestine. Maja ou Olympia nue. Avec Manet et Marcellin Desboutin. Couple de spectateurs au deuxieme plan, 1969

Las Olas Del Mar, 2021


iyana Esters

Las Olas Del Mar (Waves of The Ocean) is a story about Dailin Tello Diaz, a 14-year-old female surfer based in Termales, Nuquí, Chocó a remote region on the Pacific Coast of Colombia and her peers, who are redefining western optics of what a surfer looks like, especially those who are young Afro-Colombian girls.

Dailin explaining to one of the younger surfer girls how to use a surfboard, 2021.

Children of Nuquí running on the beach during their practice, 2021.

(Top )Sisters Yasleidy (r) and Wendy (l) staring at the waves, 2021.

(Bottom) A portrait of Dailin in her happy place near the waves of the ocean with her surfboard, 2021.


iyana Esters

(Top) Hibiscus flower near the hot springs, 2021.

(Bottom) Inside the house of Dailin's grandma, 2021.


iyana Esters

Las Olas Del Mar (Waves of The Ocean) a photo and video exhibition shown at the Metro Gallery at the Reno City Hall during 2022 as a solo show in Spanish and English.

I’m still here, 2019


iyana Esters

I’m Still Here is Iyana’s first photo project representing Black individuals whose communities are becoming erased due to environmental racism, such as gentrification, water inequity, food insecurity, and toxic environments as their souls still remain by claiming its space.

(Top) Under development is the 48-arce Upper Harbor Terminal disconnecting North Minneapolis and the Mississippi River planned to be an amphitheater, 2020.

(Bottom) Blocks away from the Upper Harbor Terminal project are younger children on the sidewalk in north Minneapolis. The new development comes into fruition within fifteen years, 2020.

(Top) Ms. Stephanie is the owner of Golden Thyme Café standing outside of the café's old location in the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota. The new location is across the street located on Selby. This black neighborhood was destroyed in the mid-1900s because of the construction of I-94, 2019.

(Bottom) Ms. Stephanie being questioned about buying or renting the space where the old location of Golden Thyme Café was located in the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota, 2019.


iyana Esters

(Top ) In low-income Black neighborhoods such as north Minneapolis there is a significant access to food sources that encourage unhealthy eating. The distribution of fast-food restaurants and convenience stores, 2020.

(Bottom) In north Minneapolis a food desert is Yahna in front of North Market. The store provides a center for well being, and community gatherings giving wellness accessibility in the area, 2020.

(Middle) Eric Owens II was about 14-years old when the water crisis started in Flint. He is now attending college and returned to Flint for the summer to help with the youth, 2019.

(Right) The Flint Development Center is a community facility for those interested in activities and trainings. This building is being redeveloped after the lack of use because of the deterioration, mold, and undrinkable water, 2019.

Alternative photogrpahy


iyana Esters

Using mainly plant materials and sky elements to create photographic images by being mindful and intentional with nature itself.

(Left) Fabric cloth “Las Olas Del Mar” 2023.

(Middle) Sun print “Black Mother God” from Birthed from the soil series, 2023.

(Right) Leaf print “Arm of Mama Yawah” from Birthed from the soil series, 2023.


iyana Esters

curriculum vitae


2024 Nevada Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, Grantee

2021 Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Semi-Finalist​

2020 Jackson Wild, Fellow

2020 Diversify Photo, Up Next Candidate​


2024 Birthed from the soil, Nevada Humanities, Las Vegas, NV

2024 Birthed from the soil, Coleman Center for the Arts, York, AL

2023 Birthed from the soil, Front Door Gallery at the Lilley Museum of Art at the University of Nevada, Reno, NV

2022 Las Olas Del Mar, Metro City Gallery at Reno City Hall, Reno, NV


2023 Lilley Co-Lab, Lilley Museum of Art at the University of Nevada, Reno, NV​

2021 From Tulsa to Minneapolis: Photographing The Long Road To Justice, Social Documentary Network, Boston, MA​

2020 Every One Of Us, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Philadelphia, PA​

2020 Open Studio Art Exhibition, Artemesia Studios, Reno, NV

2019 Wing Young Huie: What Do You See?, Landmark Center, St. Paul, MN


2023 Holland Project Billboard, Reno, NV

2023 Wedekind Road Art Project, Reno, NV


2024 Obodo Urban Farm, Las Vegas, NV

2024 College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, NV

2024 Indigi Golden Herbal Academy, Bay Area, CA


2023, 2022, 2021 National Geographic Storytellers Summit

2022 Intensive Editing Workshop, Natalie Keyssar + Daniella Zalcman

2020 International Women Media Foundation, HEFAT Trainee


iyana Esters


Get in touch for exhibition showings and artist talks/workshops.

Prints are available upon demand.



Black Instagram Logo

All rights reserved ©2018-2024 Iyana Esters and/or stated publication. Nothing contained within this ENTIRE site or ANy PAGE may NOT be used in any form without written permission. No photos, audio, video or text are within the Public Domain.