The Newhouse School today announced the winners in The Alexia 2022 grant competition, which supports professional and student photographers whose work inspires change and world understanding. This year’s contest, sponsored by Sony, drew over 250 project proposals from more than 50 nations.
Istanbul-based photographer Danielle Villasana is the recipient of the $20,000 professional grant for her project “Abre Camino.” The work explores the challenges faced by transgender women in Latin America.
“I’m incredibly thankful and humbled to receive The Alexia [grant] and am honored to not only follow in the footsteps of incredible storytellers who came before me but also to carry on Alexia Tsairis’ legacy,” Villasana says. “I dedicate this recognition to the many women who’ve graciously shared their stories with me for the past decade in my project documenting the life-threatening challenges they face as a result of transphobia throughout the Americas.”
Newhouse graduate student James Year was named runner-up for his project “The Moment,” which explores the state of the long-haul trucking industry. “The loss of this profession to converging technologies in AI and robotics is an ominous prelude to a future that will not create equitable new roles for the populations they will displace throughout America, especially regarding women, people of color and working class Americans,” Year says.
Awards of Excellence
Newhouse graduate student Caitlin Eddolls is the recipient of the student grant for her project “Eight Hundred.” Her work will focus on the rare genetic disorder fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) using audio interviews, a photo essay and a book of portraits as well as motion portraits of people living with FOP.
“Having received this grant, I am left with a huge sense of responsibility not only to the people impacted by FOP (the focus of my project) but [also] to the people and values at the center of this [organization] that have chosen to support this project,” Eddolls says.
Eddolls will receive tuition for three courses, plus a $1000 cash grant and a Sony A7III camera and lens. During her Alexia term, she also will serve as a paid research assistant to The Alexia chair.
Jordi Jon Pardo of Universitat Ramon Llull in Spain was named runner-up for his project “Eroding Franco,” which compares the suppression of scientific archives during the regime of Spanish prime minister Francisco Franco with the current desertification state of Spain.
“Thirty-six years of dictatorship legitimized a culture of destruction and abandonment of the territory in favor of economic growth,” Pardo says. “Today we know that 80% of Spain will become a desert by the end of the 21st century.”
Awards of Excellence
The grant competition took place April 1 -2 at the Newhouse School. Judges for the student grant were Whitney C. Johnson, vice president for visuals and immersive experiences at National Geographic; Sandra Stevenson, associate director of photography at CNN; and Todd Heisler, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer. David Sutherland, founding Alexia Tsairis Chair for Documentary Photography, moderated the panel. The professional panel was judged by Stevenson, Heisler and Jehan Jillani, visuals editor at The Atlantic. Johnson moderated the panel.
Bruce Strong, associate professor of visual communications who serves as the Alexia Chair and director of the program, says this year’s process was a success.
“I am deeply grateful for everyone who helped make this year’s in-person judging such a success: Adriana and Graham Letorney from Visura.co and Whitney C. Johnson from National Geographic; jury members Sandra Stevenson, Todd Heisler and Jehan Jillani; Claudia Strong, Rachel Cooper, Donna McLellan, Zach Krahmer and the staff and faculty at Newhouse; Samantha Corn and Joseph Stamper at Sony; and Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis (and their children and families), whose passion for The Alexia, our industry and the power of visual storytelling honors the depth of love they had for their daughter, Alexia. I’d also like to thank all the visual storytellers who chose to participate in The Alexia’s grant process this year and who are using their visual voice to tell stories of significance in the pursuit of making our world a better place.”
About The Alexia
The Alexia, now part of the Newhouse School, began as the Alexia Foundation, created with the mission to promote the power of photojournalism and to support photographers as agents for change. It was established in 1991 by Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis in memory of their daughter, who was a photography student at Newhouse when she was killed in the bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988. Since its founding, The Alexia has awarded more than $1.7 million in grants, scholarships and special projects while encouraging a diversity of creators, issues and approaches. For more information, visit newhouse.syr.edu/alexia.