Sociologist, writer and documentary photographer Camilo José Vergara is the first photographer to win a National Medal of Humanities. On July 10, President Obama awarded 24 National Medals of Arts & Humanities for 2012– Vergara included for his “stark visual representation of American cities” over the past four decades.
The National Medal of Humanities recognizes those who have contributed to the field of American humanities. As President Obama explained at the awards ceremony, the works of the medal recipients “nourish the mind and soul” and challenge us to examine ourselves and our world.
After graduating from Notre Dame and Columbia in sociology, Chilean-born Vergara set out to capture America’s urban communities and ghettoes from New York City to Detroit to East Los Angeles. To capture the effects of time on inner cities, Vergara serially photographs places from the same spot. He even uses the same camera and lens to paint more accurately how urban places have changed over the years.
These time-lapse and other photographs cover America’s poorer neighborhoods like the South Bronx, Newark and Detroit. Vergara writes in a Time LightBox article that he “see[s] photography as a medium that spurs continuous inquiry and thus leads to greater understanding of the spirit of a place.”
His first book, The New American Ghetto (1995), explores the despairing transformations of diverse metropolises. His latest book, Harlem: the Unmaking of a Ghetto (October 31, 2013) is a 43-year culmination of photographing the neighborhood during racial desegregation/integration, ghettoization and ongoing gentrification.
His work has been shown at institutions such as the National Building Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, New York and Chicago Historical Societies and J. Paul Getty Museum. In 2002, Vergara won a MacArthur fellowship.
Six photographers have been awarded the 2016 Individual Photographer’s Fellowship (IPF) grants from the Aaron Siskind Foundation: Sam Contis of Oakland, CA Holly Lynton of Pioneer Valley, MA Raymond Meeks of Portland, OR RaMell Ross of Providence, RI A 2014 PDN’s 30, Bryan Schutmaat of Hilltop Lakes, TX Danny Wilcox Frazier of Iowa City, IA Offered to U.S. artists working in still photography and photography-based media, the... More ›
Photographer Jessica Eve Rattner has been named the winner of the 2016 CDS Documentary Essay Prize in Photography, awarded by Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies (CDS). Rattner won for “House of Charm,” her project documenting the life of her neighbor, Lee, who is now 80 years old and has lived alone in in her... More ›
The work of photographer Woods Wheatcroft is imbued with light, energy and play. In fact, those are the names of three portfolios on his website that present his work. Wheatcroft shoots travel, lifestyle and stock photography that is true to his West Coast upbringing: laid back, cheery and sunlit. His work has attracted outdoor clients... More ›