The Meero Foundation gives support to the W. Eugene Smith Fund
Willing to reward innovative ideas that challenge conventional storytelling techniques and impact the collective consciousness, the Meero Foundation is proud to announce its support to the W. Eugene Smith Fund, joining other historical sponsors. This year, breaking from its 40-year tradition of presenting its $40,000 annual grant to a single photographer, the W. Eugene Smith Fund, awards $50,000 in Grants and Fellowships equally shared among five recipients to expand its support during an unprecedented context causing global decline in grants for the arts.
Each recipient will receive $10,000 for their entries which, in the eyes of the judges, follow the tradition of the compassionate photojournalism exhibited by W. Eugene Smith during his 45-year career. Recipients of the 2020 W. Eugene Smith Grant include Andres Cardona (Colombia), Sabiha Cimen (Turkey), Laura El-Tantawy (Egypt), Mariceu Erthal Garcia (Mexico), and Yuki Iwanami (Japan).
The Smith Fund also announced that Ksenia Kuleshova (Russia), a graduate student at Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Germany, is the recipient of the $5,000 Smith Student grant, and Stephen Ferry (Bogota, Colombia) representing OjoRojo Fabrica Visual (Red Eye Visual Factory), is the recipient of the $10,000 Howard Chapnick grant.
Since the Fund’s inception in 1979, it has awarded over $1 million to photographers whose past work and proposed projects follow the tradition of W. Eugene Smith’s career as a photographic essayist.
“The Meero Foundation’s mission is to educate, and amplify the impact of images” says Thomas Rebaud, Meero’s CEO. “That’s why it means a lot to us to support young professionals in their early career leveraging visual content to bring positive change and raise awareness. We are therefore really proud to be the patrons of such an eminent fund as the W. Eugene Smith Fund that each year brings the light on the amazing work of talented photographers that make a difference”.
“I am proud of the decisions the board of trustees made this year to adjust the structure, and tradition, of the Smith Fund to financially support more documentary photographers during an unprecedented time in our history,” explained Phil Block, president of the W. Eugene Memorial Fund. “Equally important and impressive were the entries to this year’s grant, including this year’s recipients, which reflect the overall quality of documentary projects being produced around the world.”
2020 Smith Grant Recipients
Andres Cardona: “Wreck Family and the Colombian Conflict” (Colombia)
This project focuses on how the violence in Colombia affected Andres’ family, including the murder of his mother, father, and uncle by the National Army and Colombian government military without cause. “I did not know peace, there was always war in my childhood and the peace process signed between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia "FARC" and the National Government allowed tranquility to be felt in the territory where I live for a couple of years. Today, the panorama has changed, and it seems that peace is only a utopia for those of us who live through war,” Andres wrote.
Sabiha Cimen: “Hafiz: The Guardians of the Quran” (Turkey)
This project is an ongoing series of medium format portraits shot in conservative Quran boarding schools for young girls in five cities in Turkey. It shows the daily lives of the girls and their hidden emotions as they try to memorize the sacred texts while still retaining the humble dreams of any young woman their age.
Laura El-Tantawy: “I’ll Die for You” (Egypt)
Laura began this project eight years ago as a meditation on the relationship between man and land. Choosing small farmers as her focus, she contemplates farming as a diminishing way of life — a consequence of persistent climatic variations, its harsh physical and economic demands, singular nature, and a disposition towards urban living. “My paternal grandfather — Hussein, is my inspiration for this series,” she wrote. “A farmer in Egypt’s Nile Delta, his devotion to his land eventually annihilated him. The series is driven by a desire to attach a human face to an environmental and social reality some insist to rebuff as abstract. It is an ode to my own grandfather and the many farmers I have been fortunate to meet & those who in death found a retreat.”
Mariceu Erthal Garcia: “Letters to Gemma” (Mexico)
This project explores the absence of a missing woman, Gemma Mávil, who left home in 2011 for a job interview and never returned. Mariceu immerses herself in Gemma’s world through documenting the places she once inhabited, the poetry she wrote, the flowers she cultivated and the sad memory of her desire to live. Through this series, Mariceu uses the self-portrait as an interpretation of Gemma's intimate world, suspended in time, since her life was suspended at the moment she disappeared. According to the federal database in Mexico, one person disappears every two hours.
Yuki Iwanami: “Blue Persimmons” (Japan)
This project looks at the aftermath of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima through the lens of a photographer who once lived in the Tohoku region of Japan where the disaster occurred. Ms. Iwanami’s photographs capture the human side of this disaster, how it impacted the people, and how the nuclear power issues relate to other societal issues.
W. Eugene Smith Student Grant
Ksenia Kuleshova (Russia), a graduate student at Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Dortmund, Germany, received the $5,000 Eugene Smith Student grant for “Ordinary people,” which documents the everyday life of LGBTQ+ couples in Russia and their ability to enjoy everyday life despite open homophobia on the television, by politicians in the media, and the Russian church.
Joining Scott Thode on the adjudication panel were Jessica Dimson, Deputy Director of Photography for The New York Times Magazine, and Pablo Corral Vega, an Ecuadorian photojournalist and lawyer whose work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian magazine and National Geographic.
Howard Chapnick Grant
This year's $5,000 Howard Chapnick Grant was presented to Stephen Ferry, curator (Bogota, Colombia) at OjoRojo Fabrica Visual (Red Eye Visual Factory), a non-profit cultural foundation run by a group of Colombian and international documentary photographers in central Bogota. In four short year, OjoRojo has become an important reference point in the world of Colombian and Latin American photography and journalism. Through workshops, exhibitions, and numerous public presentations by photographers, they promote diversity and gender equality in the profession, while emphasizing the development of critical and informed perspectives on the challenges facing Colombian and Latin American society.
About the W. Eugene Smith Grant
The W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography is presented annually to a photographer whose past work and proposed project, as judged by a panel of experts, follows the tradition of W. Eugene Smith’s dedicated compassion and humanistic approach to his subjects throughout his career as a photographic essayist. Judges look for photographers (and their proposed projects) that seem most likely to use exemplary and compelling photojournalism (and possibly incorporating multi-media) to address issues related to the human condition; social change; humanitarian concern; armed conflict; or cultural, social, environmental, and/or political significance, ideally expressing an underlying acknowledgment of our common humanity.
Past recipients have included Yael Martinez (2019), Daniel Castro Garcia (2017), Darcy Padilla (2010), James Nachtwey (1993), Eli Reed (1992), Sebastião Salgado (1982), and Jane Evelyn Atwood (1980).
In February 2021 will be released Minamata, a drama film directed by Andrew Levitas, based on the book of the same name by Aileen Mioko Smith and Eugene Smith. The film stars actor Johnny Depp as photographer Eugene Smith, who documented between 1971 and 1973 the effects of mercury poisoning on the citizens of Minamata, Kumamoto, Japan.
For more information about the W. Eugene Smith Fund, please visit SmithFund.org.
About The Meero Foundation
Technical evolutions have always transformed our practices and modified our perception of the world. The evolution of the digital image - along with new ways of expression, communication and socialization - creates new challenges for image-makers.
Instant, connected, multiplied, images are now shared in all places and circumstances. But are we still able to appreciate them, or let them have enough impact? Visual artists have always confronted the contemporary challenges that we face, from the conservation of our natural environment, to the fight against poverty and discrimination, to the necessity of access to health care and education, as well as ways to reinforce solidarity among people. In the “Age of the Image,” we believe that there is still much more that imagery can do to help make the world a better place.
The Meero Foundation gives back to photographers, whether they be professional or amateur. It aims to give them expertise and awareness for a better impact of their images, and to stand out in our current visual culture. We hope to become a trusted partner for photographers who wish to look for additional meaning in their artistic purpose, and ultimately define the role they want to play as visual storytellers.
Through our innovation-driven program, we encourage the recipients of the Meero Foundation’s actions to help define the creative processes of tomorrow and to tell impactful stories to maximize positive social change. True to our values, we further envision the Meero Foundation as a hub for expression, diversity, solidarity, the sharing of human values, and as a perpetual visual laboratory.
Created in 2016, Meero’s mission is to contribute to the world of photography by giving photographers the possibility to dedicate themselves entirely to their passion. From generating additional revenue to client prospecting, invoicing and payments to post-production and delivery, Meero facilitates activity for creatives while taking care of all the time-consuming tasks that can slow down their daily activities.
Meero is the go-to solution for both creative business management tools and inspiring educational content. With Meero, photographers have access to not only a wide range of accounting, CRM systems, and marketing tools but also a growing list of masterclasses, technical tutorials, inspiring documentaries, photographer meet-ups across 35 countries, a bilingual magazine, and a foundation to support photography.