The Alexia Foundation is thrilled to announce the recipients of the 2014 Alexia Foundation Grants: Sebastián Liste for the professional grant and Mehran Hamrahi for the student grant.
It’s incredible news [grants like this] are the only way to continue working and trying to make a change.
Finalists for the professional grant were Stephen Dupont, of Austinmer, Australia, and Pau Coll Sánchez of Barcelona, Spain, for their respective projects about mental health treatment in Angola and prisons in Central America.
Liste, who lives in Alicante, Spain, will receive the $20,000 professional grant for his project, “The New Culture of Violence in Latin America” which is an investigation of crime, punishment and security in Latin America. Despite the fall of military rule and the restoration of democracy, statistics show that in the last two decades crime rates have soared considerably, making Latin America the world’s most violent region, Sebastián writes in his proposal. The work is an ongoing project.
The Alexia Grant will allow Sebastián to produce the final coverage in his five year study of violence in the region by exploring the issue in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, where communities have endured years of violence from drug wars, criminal gangs and the illegal trafficking of drugs, weapons and people. Sebastián’s work will raise awareness of the gravity of the current situation that impacts millions of citizens in the region and will impel political and media leaders to pay vital attention to this important issue.
￼Judges Stephen Mayes, Karen Mullarkey and Yukiko Yamagata were particularly impressed by the way Sebastián’s project reaches beyond a single event or setting and addresses a larger aspect of a society. In doing so, they noted that it has the potential to bring about change and a much greater understanding of the issue.
“It’s incredible news,” said Sebastián in response to hearing that he had been awarded the Professional Grant. “It’s been difficult to finance this kind of work today, [grants like this] are the only way to continue working and trying to make a change.”
Mike Davis, who as the Alexia Chair at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School runs the grant selection process, said that 231 people submitted proposals and bodies of work to the professional grant competition this year.
“The level of work submitted continues to be of the highest calibre,” Davis said. “Seeing that quantity and quality of work and hearing the judges talk about the merits and shortcomings of entries was like taking a course on documentary photography.”
Selection took place Feb. 22 at Syracuse University.
Mehran Hamrahi of the Islamic Azad University of Ahvaz, Iran, receives the student grant for his project, “Iranian People, Ordinary or Criminals.” The work aims to portray the daily lives of Iranian youth who dream of living “a free life.” Iran is currently one of the youngest countries in the world, and Mehran’s project will give voice to this younger generation, which, deprived of basic human rights and social freedom, dreams of immigration and living in a free country abroad, Mehran writes. Mehran will receive tuition for the Syracuse University London Program, a $1,000 grant to help produce the proposed body of work, a $300 gift card from Dury’s Photo for equipment and supplies, and $500 will be awarded to his academic department.
The Second Place Student Grant Winner is Shahria Sharmin from the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute for her project, “Call Me Heena,” which explores the different responses Bangladesh and India have to Transgender Identity of the Hijra, a South Asian term referring to an individual born male, but who identifies as female, and eventually adopts the feminine gender roles. It will look at the lives of Hijra who have left Bangladesh, seeking the greater inclusion India offers. The project aims to help spur greater acceptance of the Hijra in Bangladesh. Shahria will receive half tuition for study at the Syracuse University London Program, a $500 cash grant to help produce the proposed body of work, and a $250 gift card from Dury’s Photo for equipment and supplies.
The Alexia Award of Excellence recipients are Farzana Hossen of Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, Andrew Renneisen of Syracuse University and Sarah Ann Jump of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Farana’s project, “Lingering Scars” tells the story of women who are the victims of acid and kerosene burns in Bangladesh as they try to rebuild ￼their lives in a society where violence against women is on the rise and is sanctioned by both society and the state.
Andrew’s project, “Hip Hop, Save Me,” will look at a group of aspiring hip-hop artists trying to make it as rappers at night, while struggling to provide for their families by day. This is the second year that Andrew has been awarded an Alexia Student Grant. Last year, he received an Award of Excellence for his ” Violent Times: Crime in America’s Cities.”
Sarah’s project, “New Roots: Refugees Resettling in America” will be a photographic documentation of the first year of resettlement for a refugee family settling in Rochester, New York.
The new Gilka Grant, honoring Robert E. Gilka, has been awarded to Andrew Renneisen and Sarah Ann Jump, to allow them to attend the NPPA’s Kalish Workshop.
“Each of our 24 competitions has had it’s own chemistry. This year’s jury brought together 3 very different perspectives on the role and value of visual journalism. Much was learned from their keen eyes and professional observations ,” noted Aphrodite Tsairis. “We welcome the judges and the winners to our growing Alexia family,” she added.
The Alexia Foundation promotes the power of photojournalism to give voice to social injustice, to respect history lest we forget it and to understand cultural difference as our strength – not our weakness. It was created in response to the death of Alexia Tsairis who perished with 269 others in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.
Congratulations to the 2014 winners, and thank you everyone for submitting your powerful work and insightful proposals.