January 2019 – I’m proud to announce that the Board of Trustees of the W. Eugene Smith Fund has reappointed me as Co-Treasurer of the Fund for a seventh consecutive year. I served as Secretary of the Board for the three years prior to becoming Treasurer.

The W. Eugene Smith Fund for Humanistic Photography is a non-profit organization that issues annual grants to photojournalists to pursue photographic projects focusing on the human condition in the spirit of W. Eugene Smith, the famous LIFE magazine photographer. My tasks include fundraising, budgeting and bookkeeping. (I secured Canon USA’s sponsorship for the past nine years.) My fellow board members are affiliated with the International Center of Photography, School of Visual Arts, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, and other leading photography organizations.

The fund’s sponsors include The Incite Project, Herb Ritts Foundation, Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation and Canon USA. Additional support is provided by Aperture, Brilliant Graphics, Center for Creative Photography (CCP), the International Center of Photography (ICP), MediaStorm, Photo District News (PDN), the School of Visual Arts BFA Photography, MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department, and Synergy Communications Inc.

On October 17, 2018, the W. Eugene Smith Fund Board announced that Mark Peterson is the recipient of the 2018 Grant in Humanistic Photography for for The Past is Never Dead. Mr. Peterson looks at the organizations, political parties and candidates bringing the message of white supremacy to the halls of various state and local governments. The Smith Grant will help Peterson further explore the social life of the resurgent Confederacy, the removal of Confederate statues, and the long-term impact of these initiatives. Mr. Peterson’s project was selected among 314 entries from 53 countries, the most entries ever submitted to the Smith Grant since its inception in 1980.

The $35,000 grant was presented to Peterson during the foundation’s 39th annual ceremony at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Theatre on West 23rd street in New York City.

Additional Awards

Photographer Sarah Blesener (U.S.) received a $5,000 Smith Fund Fellowship for Beckon Us from Home, an exploration of how the interplay of religion, love of country, and military-style training in youth education is being implemented at patriotic camps and clubs across the United States. Photographed in twelve different states, Beckon Us From Home is an ongoing photography project investigating how the United States instills patriotism and passes down traditions to new generations.

The judges also presented special awards to Monika Bulaj (Poland) and Enayat Asadi (Iran) for Broken Songlines || Three Manuscripts and Rising from the Ashes of War, respectively. Sponsored by The Philip and Edith Leonian Foundation, the $2,500 awards are presented to Smith Grant finalists whose works the judges deem “exceptional and worthy of recognition.”

Jodi Kantor, best-selling author of The Obamas and prize-winning investigative reporter for The New York Times, presented this year’s keynote during the award ceremony on October 17th. Along with Megan Twohey and their colleagues, Kantor broke the story of decades of sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Their work, which won the Pulitzer Prize for public service, helped ignite the #MeToo movement, shift attitudes, and spur new laws, policies, and standards of accountability around the globe.

In an environment where newspapers and weekly news magazines are closing and assignments are few, the grant enables photographers to cover and educate the public about issues that affect our daily lives with a graphic strength that attracts one’s intellectual curiosity and pulls heart strings. I’m proud to help keep the torch of concerned photojournalism burning. The fund is accepting entries for 2019. 

 

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