The Alexia Foundation is pleased to announce that Sarah Blesener of New York is the recipient of The Alexia $20,000 Professional Grant for Toy Soldiers with which she will document rising nationalism among youth in the U.S. Blesener is a recent graduate of the International Center of Photography (ICP) Visual Journalism and Documentary Practice certificate program and was the recipient of The Alexia award of excellence student grant just last year, in 2016.
Blesener is the third Alexia student winner to go on to win The Alexia professional grant, but the first to do it so quickly, in the year immediately following her student win. She was also the first place winner of Social Documentary Network (SDN’s) Documenting What Matters Call For Entries and Toy Soldiers was feature article in the most recent print edition of ZEKE Magazine.
Xyza Bacani and Alexia Webster are being recognized with Judges Special Recognition awards for My Mother’s Footsteps and Street Studios, respectively. My Mother’s Footsteps is the story of the millions of migrant mothers and the children they left behind. Street Studios is a multimedia photography project aimed at creating a family album of displaced communities during this era of mass upheaval and migration. César Rodríguez was a finalist for Ha Pumawe – Without Water, which documents the drought in native Mexican communities.
This was the most competitive year for The Alexia professional grant to date, with over 291 proposals being submitted for the prize. Blesener found herself completely speechless upon being informed that she had won the professional grant.
Monica Jorge is The Alexia 2017 Student Winner for My Grandfather’s Keeper, which documents the sacrifices of senior spouses unprepared for caretaking. It shows the experience of her own grandmother in her transitioning from being a wife to being a nurse. Jorge is a student in the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism certificate program at the International Center of Photography (ICP).
Award of Excellence Grants were given to Camillo Pasquarelli of Officine Fotografiche in Rome Italy for The endless winter of Kashmir which shows the suffering of the Kashmiri people as they wait for the spring of azadi, freedom; David Denil of the School of Arts (KASK) in Belgium for Let Us Not Fall Asleep While Walking, which are a creation of images showing the psychological state of Ukraine as it tries to look for a future without war; Riel Sturchio of University of Texas, Austin for Chasing Light, a collaborative photographic project with her twin sister about their experiences with cerebral palsy, identity, shame, and stigma within non-normative bodies; and Joy Yi of George Washington University for Barry Farm about a public housing community in peril in Washington, D.C.
The Alexia 2017 competition was judged by Keith Jenkins, most recently the National Geographic Society Digital General Manager, VII Photographer and Filmmaker Ed Kashi, and Independent Photography Director, Curator and Consultant Amy Pereira. Mike Davis, the Alexia Tsairis Chair of Documentary Photography at Syracuse University, moderated.
This was the 27th year The Alexia Foundation has awarded grants to photojournalists. The Alexia Foundation helps photojournalists give voice to those who go unheard, foster understanding and expose social injustice. It was founded to celebrate and remember Alexia Tsairis, who was killed in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.
View the video of our official winner’s announcement in Miami with responses from Sarah Blesener and Monica Jorge below