The Alexia Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Alexia Grants.
The winner of the $20,000 Professional Grant is Aaron Vincent Elkaim of Toronto, Canada. The winner of the First Place Student Grant is Nathaniel Brunt of Toronto, Canada.
Aaron Vincent Elkaim was awarded the Professional Grant for Where the River Runs Through, which examines the consequences of Brazil’s major hydroelectric expansion on the ecosystems, communities, and industries within the Amazon Rainforest.
February 21 2014. A child from the Xikrin village of “Pot crô” stands for a photo on the banks of the Rio Bacaja, its name meaning “the water that runs in river is the same as the blood that flows through our veins.” The Xikrin are a warrior tribe that have strongly resisted the dam, but were recently divided into 8 smaller groups due to negotiations with Norte Enegria, the company building the dam. Many of the chiefs were paid off with boats, motors, and televisions, while others maintained resistance. The Bacaja, a tributary of the Xingu River which the people depend upon for fish and transportation, will severely dry up after the dam is completed. Photo by Aaron Vincent Elkaim
“I am especially pleased with Aaron Vincent Elkaim’s project, as I have long wanted to get involved in water and its effect on our environment,” said Aphrodite Tsairis, Alexia Foundation co-founder. “Brazil’s hydroelectric expansion and its relation to the Amazon rainforest puts Alexia in a key position to weigh in on this environmental issue.”
Alvaro Ybarra Zavala received a Judges Special Recognition award for Colombia, The Parallel State, which documents the reality of a civilian population who live in a hidden Colombia that only knows the reality of sixty years of war.
Finalists for the Professional Grant were Adriane Ohanesian for The Last Lives, Rebel Darfur; Brendan Hoffman for Brotherland: War in Ukraine; Krisanne Johnson for Post Apartheid Youth; and Asa Sjöström for Moldova Silent Land.
First Place Student Winner Nathaniel Brunt was awarded the Alexia Grant for #Shaheed, a study of the war in Kashmir, the men fighting in it, and the changing relationship between technology and the representation of conflict. Brunt is in his final year of a master’s degree at Ryerson University in Toronto. He will use the prize of a semester at Syracuse University to further his goal of earning a PhD and to produce his project into a book.
Thousands of people gather in Kakapora, Kashmir for the funeral of 21-year-old Talib Ahmed Shah, a Kashmiri Lashkar-E-Taiba militant. (Summer 2015) Photo by Nathaniel Brunt
“Overall, the student proposals were of the highest caliber, in many instances far surpassing those of the pros,” said Aphrodite Tsairis, “This speaks to the fact that Alexia is teaching a whole new generation of photo storytellers how to write a good proposal.”
Student Award of Excellence Grants were awarded to José Márquez of Brooks Institute for Próspero, which tells the story of a man who believed in the American Dream and ran for his life across the border from Mexico to the United States to follow his dreams; to Gabriela Arp of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for Traces, a 360-video virtual reality experience that explores the memories—both real and imagined—of Willie E.White, an 88-year old woman living with dementia; to Sarah Blesener of The International Center of Photography for Chavi, which focuses on a surrogate family of fourteen-year old friends living in the projects in the southern Bronx, exploring issues of boyhood, adolescence, and belonging; and to Nick Wagner of Western Kentucky University whose A Migrant’s Mission looks at how one Mexican migrant worker has coped with leaving behind his family for nine months each of the last 13 years.
Judging took place April 1 and 2 at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. The judges for the 2016 competition were Teru Kuwayama, Darcy Padilla and Ami Vitale. All three are highly accomplished visual journalists and past Alexia Professional Grant recipients. The judging was moderated by Alexia Chair Mike Davis, who noted that this year’s submissions were the strongest to date.
The Alexia Foundation exists to give photojournalists the financial ability to give voice to those who go unheard, foster understanding and expose social injustice. The Alexia Foundation was created in 1991 in remembrance and celebration of Alexia Tsairis who was one of 35 Syracuse University students murdered in the terrorist bombing of PanAm Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland when returning home from their study abroad program in London.
B&H Photo and Think Tank Photo also provided support for the 2016 Alexia Grants.