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Joy McKinney was born in Montgomery, Alabama. She received her undergraduate degree from the Atlanta College of Art and her MFA in photography from Parsons The New School for Design, New York.

McKinney uses photography and video to explore contemporary social and cultural attitudes towards gender and race. 

 In her work, Joy McKinney transcends social norms and is not afraid to put herself in unconventional positions in order to create a strong connection with her subjects.  With her experimental approach, she is able to challenge the socially accepted boundaries between people and connect with strangers in a bid to break down barriers and social norms.

 Her work has been presented in various venues in Europe and the United States. Recipient of several awards, Joy McKinney was invited as guest speaker at the Design Indaba World Conference and currently teaches Photography and Fine Art related courses at Parsons School of Design.

Publications that feature her artwork include Vogue, The Guardian, LensCulture, Peta Pixel, Core 77, The Huffington Post, Daily Mail, and Reframing Photography.