Nydia Blas is an artist and community leader whose pictures capture a striking and deeply intimate perspective of black female adolescence. A s executive director of the Southside Community Center in Ithaca, New York , Blas works closely with teenage girls to help establish a safe space where they are celebrated and empowered to thrive within a predominantly white environment. Her series The Girls Who Spun Gold is both a collaboration and an ode to the young women she works with. Each picture explicitly confronts the stereotypes perpetuated by decades of racist propaganda in an effort to reclaim identity, and, like the Southside Community Center, create a safe space in which young black women can see themselves. Here, Blas speaks with BuzzFeed News about her work and the powerful meaning behind the pictures.