© Univ. of Chicago Press/photo by Camilo Jose Vergara

© Univ. of Chicago Press/photo by Camilo Jose Vergara

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.


COMMENTS

MORE POSTS

Canon Female Photojournalist Award, Other Prizes Announced by Visa Pour L’Image Fest

Posted by on Wednesday July 5, 2017 | Awards/Contests/Grants

The winners of the Canon Female Photojournalist Award, the International Committee of the Red Cross Humanitarian Visa d’or Award and the Pierre and Alexandra Boulat Grant have been announced. These, along with several other photojournalism awards and grants, will be presented in early September 2017 in Perpignan, France. The Canon Female Photojournalist Award of €8000... More

Danielle Villasana’s Advice on Applying for Grants and Awards

Posted by on Thursday June 15, 2017 | Awards/Contests/Grants

Photographer Danielle Villasana has won numerous accolades for “A Light Inside,” her project about transgender women. They include the 2015 Inge Morath Award (see “How I Got That Grant: The $5,000 Inge Morath Award“), a 2015 Pride Photo Award, and a place on Getty’s 2015-2016 Emerging Talent roster. Here is her advice about writing successful... More

Five Photographers Win the 2017 Contemporary African Photography Prize

Posted by on Tuesday June 13, 2017 | Awards/Contests/Grants

Girma Berta, Emmanuelle Andrianjafy, Georges Senga, Fethi Sahraoui and Lebohang Kganye are the winners of this year’s CAP Prize— the Contemporary African Photography Prize, awarded by the CAP Association. The award is given annually to five photographers whose work “engages with the African continent or its diaspora” and “encourage a rethinking of the image of... More