New York-based photographer Sarah Blesener has won the $20,000 Professional Grant from the Alexia Foundation for her series “Toy Soldiers, which documents youth patriotic clubs, education and summer camps in Russia.

Blesener, a recent graduate of the International Center of Photography and recipient of the Alexia Student Award in 2016, will use the funds to photograph rising nationalism among youth in the U.S., according to a statement from the Alexia Foundation.

Monica Jorge, a student in the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism certificate program at the International Center of Photography, was this year’s Student Winner for her series “My Grandfather’s Keeper,” which documents aging spouses and their transition into caretaking.

Filipino photographer Xyza Bacani, a 2017 PDN’s 30 New and Emerging Photographer to Watch, and South African photographer Alexia Webster won the Judges Special Recognition awards. Bacani was honored for her series, “My Mother’s Footsteps,” which documents migrant mothers and the children they left behind. Webster was recognized for Street Studios,” her series of portraits of refugees in campsites around the world. Mexico-based photographer César Rodríguez was a finalist for his series “Ha Pumawe—Without Water,” which documents the impact of drought on his native country.

Additionally, Italy-based Camillo Pasquarelli, Belgium-based David Denil, Texas-based Riel Sturchio and Joy Yi of Washington, D.C. won Award of Excellence Grants.

The mission of the Alexia Foundation is to promote photojournalism through scholarships and grants to bring attention to social injustice and to promote cross-cultural understanding. The foundation was established in 1991 by the family of Alexia Tsairis, a Syracuse University student who died in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

According to the Alexia Foundation, the grant received 291 total applications—the largest pool of proposals in its 27-year history. Judges for this year’s awards include: 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.

Related Articles:

Aaron Vincent Elkaim Wins $20K Alexia Foundation Grant for 2016

Toy Soldiers: Photographing Russia’s Patriotic Youth

How to Win Grants That Support Your Photo Projects


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