New York, NY—The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund announced the finalists in the 41st Annual W. Eugene Smith Grant for Humanistic Photography. Finalists were also named in the Smith Fund’s 3rd Annual Student category and 24th Annual Howard Chapnick Grant. Moreover, this year, the Meero Foundation announced support for the W. Eugene Smith Fund.
Breaking from its 40-year tradition of presenting its $40,000 annual grant to a single photographer, the W. Eugene Smith Fund awarded $50,000 in grants and fellowships equally shared among five recipients. The move expands its support during the unprecedented context of the coronavirus pandemic, which caused a global decline in grants for the arts.
“I am proud of the decisions the board of trustees made this year to adjust the structure, and tradition, of the Smith Fund to financially support more documentary photographers during an unprecedented time in our history,” explained Phil Block, president, W. Eugene Memorial Fund. “Equally important and impressive were the entries to this year’s grant; that includes this year’s recipients, which reflect the overall quality of documentary projects being produced around the world.”
The W. Eugene Smith Grant
The W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography is presented annually to a photographer whose past work and proposed project, as judged by a panel of experts, follows the tradition of W. Eugene Smith’s dedicated compassion and humanistic approach to his subjects throughout his career as a photographic essayist.
Each recipient will receive $10,000 for their entries. Moreover, those entries, in the eyes of the judges, follow the tradition of the compassionate photojournalism exhibited by W. Eugene Smith.
Recipients of the 2020 W. Eugene Smith Grant include Andres Cardona (Colombia); Sabiha Cimen (Turkey); Laura El-Tantawy (Egypt); Mariceu Erthal Garcia (Mexico); and Yuki Iwanami (Japan).
The Smith Fund also announced that Ksenia Kuleshova (Russia) is the recipient of the $5,000 Smith Student grant. Kuleshova is a graduate student at Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Germany.
In addition, Stephen Ferry (Bogota, Colombia) is the recipient of the $10,000 Howard Chapnick grant. Ferry represents OjoRojo Fabrica Visual (Red Eye Visual Factory).
“The Meero Foundation’s mission is to educate on as well as amplify the impact of images,” added Thomas Rebaud, Meero’s CEO. “That’s why it means a lot to us to support young professionals in their early career; leveraging visual content to bring positive change and raise awareness. We are therefore really proud to be the patrons of such an eminent fund as the W. Eugene Smith Fund that each year brings the light on the amazing work of talented photographers that make a difference”.
2020 Grant Recipients
Following is this year’s W. Eugene Smith Fund grant recipients.
Andres Cardona: Wreck Family and the Colombian Conflict
This project focuses on how the violence in Colombia affected Cardona’s family. Cardona’s mother, father and uncle were murdered by the National Army and Colombian government military without cause.
“I did not know peace; there was always war in my childhood. The peace process signed between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia ‘FARC’ and the National Government allowed tranquility to be felt in the territory where I live for a couple of years. Today, the panorama has changed; it seems that peace is only a utopia for those of us who live through war,” Cardona wrote.
Sabiha Cimen: Hafiz: The Guardians of the Quran
Cimen’s project is an ongoing series of medium-format portraits shot in conservative Quran boarding schools for young girls. The schools are located in five cities in Turkey.
The series shows the daily lives of the girls as well as their hidden emotions as they try to memorize the sacred texts while retaining the humble dreams of any young woman their age.
Laura El-Tantawy: I’ll Die for You
El-Tantawy began this project eight years ago as a meditation on the relationship between man and land. Choosing small farmers as her focus, she contemplates farming as a diminishing way of life; as a consequence of persistent climatic variations, its harsh physical as well as economic demands; singular nature; and a disposition toward urban living.
“My paternal grandfather, Hussein, is my inspiration for this series,” she wrote. “A farmer in Egypt’s Nile Delta, his devotion to his land eventually annihilated him. The series is driven by a desire to attach a human face to an environmental and social reality some insist to rebuff as abstract. It is an ode to my own grandfather and also the many farmers I have been fortunate to meet and those who in death found a retreat.”
Mariceu Erthal Garcia: Letters to Gemma
This project explores the absence of a missing woman, Gemma Mávil; she left home in 2011 for a job interview and never returned. Garcia immerses herself in Gemma’s world. She documents the places she once inhabited; the poetry she wrote; the flowers she cultivated; as well as the sad memory of her desire to live. Furthermore, Garcia uses the self-portrait as an interpretation of Gemma’s intimate world; suspended in time, since her life was suspended at the moment she disappeared.
Yuki Iwanami: Blue Persimmons
Iwanami looks at the aftermath of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. What’s more, she does so through the lens of a photographer who once lived in the Tohoku region of Japan where the disaster occurred. Moreover, her photographs capture the human side of this disaster; how it impacted the people and also how nuclear power issues relate to other societal issues.
W. Eugene Smith Student Grant
Ksenia Kuleshova received the $5,000 Eugene Smith Student grant for Ordinary People. It documents the everyday life of LGBTQ+ couples in Russia and their ability to enjoy everyday life despite open homophobia on the television, by politicians in the media, and the Russian church.
Joining Scott Thode on the adjudication panel were Jessica Dimson, deputy director of photography for the New York Times Magazine; as well as Pablo Corral Vega, an Ecuadorian photojournalist and lawyer.
Howard Chapnick Grant
This grant is awarded to an individual for leadership in any field ancillary to photojournalism. These fields include picture editing, research, education and management, for instance.
This year’s $5,000 Howard Chapnick Grant was presented to Stephen Ferry. Ferry is the curator at OjoRojo Fabrica Visual (Red Eye Visual Factory). The nonprofit cultural foundation is run by a group of Colombian and international documentary photographers in central Bogota.
Moreover, in four short years, OjoRojo developed into an important reference point in the world of Colombian and Latin American photography and journalism. Through workshops, exhibitions and also numerous public presentations by photographers, they promote diversity and gender equality in the profession. In addition, OjoRojo emphasizes the development of critical and informed perspectives on the challenges facing Colombian and Latin American society.
The Meero Foundation gives back to photographers, whether professional or amateur. It aims to give them expertise as well as awareness for a better impact of their images. Moreover, its mission is to become a trusted partner for photographers who wish to look for additional meaning in their artistic purpose.
“Through our innovation-driven program, we encourage the recipients of the Meero Foundation’s actions to help define the creative processes of tomorrow; to tell impactful stories to maximize positive social change. True to our values, we further envision the Meero Foundation as a hub for expression, diversity, solidarity, the sharing of human values, and as a perpetual visual laboratory,” the organization stated.