Louie Palu
Louie Palu's “Nikki in Chinatown”, a gelatin silver print from 2018

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Nikki in Chinatown
Collection of the artist

When Nikki was a young teen, she joined Check It, a Black LGBTQ+ group in Washington, D.C. Bullied and vulnerable gay and transgender teens formed the group in 2009, in order to protect themselves and each other. Now, the organization runs a business that includes a fashion line. This photograph is from a collaboration with documentary filmmaker Dana Flor, who co-directed the award-winning film Check It (2017).

For decades, documentary photographer and filmmaker Louie Palu has worked on projects dedicated to socio-political issues across the globe. His award-winning work has taken him from combat zones in Afghanistan to the U.S.–Mexico border. Most recently, he has worked in Alaska, where he documented the state of militarization in the North American Arctic. Palu took this photograph just steps away from the National Portrait Gallery.