NEWS   ·  December 18, 2019

MOPA Breaks Photography Rules with Oaxacan Women


  • The Fondo Guadalupe Musalem leveraged the Museum of Photographic Arts’ expertise to help women reframe their potential
  • Nonprofit in Mexico helps indigenous women continue their education


In a group or in pairs, students of the Fondo Guadalupe Musalem broke the rules of photography. The MOPA partnership represented the Museum’s mission to inspire, educate and engage the broadest possible audience. Photo courtesy of Angie Keller


In Oaxaca, seven out of ten indigenous women are living in poverty, according to Oaxaca’s social development office (Sedesoh). With education being limited, the Fondo Guadalupe Musalem provides workshops for young women who earn the Mexican nonprofit’s scholarships. As a partnership with the Museum of Photographic Arts, 25 young girls learned about photography techniques over a weekend last year. 

Titled “Break the rules of photography!” — the workshop asked students to identify rules to purposely break them thereafter. The purpose: for young women to give themselves permission to break these rules, in photography and perhaps in constructs placed upon them.

“They had presence, they thought critically about their work, they acted as a team and they broke the rules (in the best way possible),” MOPA Executive Director and Chief Curator Deborah Klochko told Global Voices, an international source of citizen media stories.

MOPA Executive Director and Chief Curator Deborah Klochko standing with the students. Through the Fondo Guadalupe Musalem, MOPA taught 25 young girls to break the rules of photography. Photo courtesy of Angie Keller


Financial support from MOPA’s involvement in the partnership with Fondo Guadalupe Musalem was provided by Vivien and Jeffrey Ressler. Klochko and MOPA instructor Maria Mathioudakis represented the Museum in the Oaxaca trip. Klochko said the partnership occurred after meeting another participating instructor, Marcela Taboada, who is a freelance photographer based in Oaxaca.

“We knew that we were destined to be a partnership [by being] able to use photography as part of [the young girls’] journey,” Klochko said. “She told me about her program and I knew straight away that MOPA had to be part of it.”

The images that resulted from the partnership can be browsed below. 

Untitled by Dani Untitled by Ita Untitled by Yadi Untitled by Concepción Untitled by Blanca Untitled by Pati Untitled by Cristi Untitled by Marina Untitled by Citlali Untitled by Monse
Image by Concepción from 2018 “Break the rules of photography!” program

This new year, the Fondo Guadalupe Musalem will release a calendar with their students’ recent photography. The nonprofit accepts donations to ensure these young women continue their education here.

For sponsorship or underwriting opportunities on upcoming MOPA educational programs contact a member of the Development Team at or 619-238-7559 x300.


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