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Episode 9: Chanell Stone with PJ Gubatina Policarpio

Notes from MoAD

Episode 9: Chanell Stone with PJ Gubatina Policarpio

By PJ Gubatina Policarpio April 15, 2020

Notes from MoAD is dedicated to the Museum of the African Diaspora’s Emerging Artist Program, giving the exhibiting artists an opportunity to discuss their featured exhibition at MoAD and how their art practice is in dialogue with contemporary art as it considers themes of the African diaspora.

This is Notes from MoAD: Emerging Artists and Critic Series, dedicated to the Museum of African Diaspora’s 2018-20 Emerging Artist Program. In this episode, photographer and visual artist Chanell Stone and curator/organizer PJ Gubatina Policarpio revisit Natura Negra (Black Nature), Stone’s exhibition at Museum of African Diaspora. Stone walks us through the various parts of the show and gives us the behind-the-image process for her compelling black-and-white self-portraits that anchor the exhibition. Additionally, Stone reflects on her family’s ties to the American South, their eventual move to Los Angeles, and how these intertwined landscapes and narratives influence her image-making.

Through the use of black-and-white analog photography, Natura Negra aims to expand the canon of traditional photography. Specificity is placed on urbanized African Americans living in dense cities and the disconnection from nature that often inherently follows this lifestyle. Stone analyzes the Black body’s presence within urban “forests” as an effort to reclaim and reconnect to nature itself, even within the confines of the man-made environment. Through a compilation of environmental portraits, Stone explores the notion of “holding space” within one’s environment and the nuances of compartmentalized nature. Natura Negra was presented at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco as part of the Emerging Artists Program, from December 4 through March 1, 2020.


Chanell Stone is a photographer living and working in Oakland, CA. Stone’s practice is invested in challenging insular views of Blackness by expanding on narratives subject to Black erasure. This avidity has led her to explore the re-naturing of the Black body to the American landscape. Fueled by the conflicting lineage surrounding the African American legacy and nature, she is inspired to create work that highlights this long-standing connection to the land. Stone has exhibited at SF Camerawork, Aperture Foundation, and the Center for Photography at Woodstock, New York.

PJ Gubatina Policarpio is an educator, writer, curator, and community organizer. He is dedicated to making visible and undeniable the critical contributions of queer, Indigenous, diasporic im/migrant artists, and artists of color through research, writing, programming, and exhibitions. PJ has organized readings, exhibitions, publications, and public programs at Southern Exposure, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Public Library, Asian Art Museum, Dixon Place, NURTUREart, and other unnameable spaces. He is co-founder of Pilipinx American Library (PAL), an itinerant collection and programming platform dedicated exclusively to Filipinx perspectives. Born in the Philippines, PJ lives and works between San Francisco and New York City; the Ramaytush Ohlone and Lenape homelands.


  1. Cover image: Chanell Stone. In search of a certain Eden, 2019; archival pigment print; 55  x 44 in.

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