Columbia Journalism Review Discovers Nuance and Poetry in Toy Soldiers

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Today, Columbia Journalism Review published an article entitled “Photographer who captured youth patriotism in Russia turns lens to Trump’s America,” which discusses Toy Soldiers, from Sarah Blesener, winner of the The Alexia 2017 grant.

The article looks at how Blesener has approached the topic of patriotism in first Russia and, now, in the U.S. Blesener explains why and how she was able to go beyond basic imagery of guns to find the moments that reveal identity. Continue reading

“Toy Soldiers” in The Guardian & Sarah Blesener on Context

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Images taken in Russia from Sarah Blesener’s 2017 winning Alexia project Toy Soldiers were featured today by The Guardian. “Over 200,000 youth are enrolled in cadet clubs that offer a potent mix of patriotism and play fighting. Photographer Sarah Blesener captured the camaraderie among the students in her series,” The Guardian tells us.

According to Blesener, it was early reception to her published work from Russia that compelled her to turn her lens on the U.S.

“There’s nothing crazy that’s happening there that’s not happening here. It’s the same kind of dialogue… If we do it here, it’s just called patriotism. If they do it in Russia, it’s called nationalism,” Blesener explained in her recent PhotoWings interview. Continue reading

PhotoWings Speaks With Sarah Blesener on Toy Soldiers

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PhotoWings, a nonprofit organization dedicated to utilizing the power of photography to further deep thinking, communication, and action, was our esteemed partner in our recent seminar Latin America: Stories That Drive Change. In addition to providing financial support for the seminar, they also made sure that the event and members of the Alexia community who attended were documented.

The first videos they released from the event are from their extensive interview with Sarah Blesener, The Alexia 2017 professional winner. In the video we are sharing today, Blesener speaks with PhotoWings about how Toy Soldiers came to be and what she hopes the work conveys. Continue reading