We recently had the chance to catch up with the 5 photographers who were each awarded the Michael Reichmann Project Grant as part of Critical Mass 2020! Congratulations again to Alanna Airitam, Marisol Mendez, Emeke Obanor, André Ramos-Woodard, and Ada Trillo!
With this grant, we don’t require anything specific of the artists selected – we hope that they will be able to use the cash to help fund an ongoing or new project through the purchase of equipment, paper, materials, travel costs, or entry fees. But we also know that sometimes the best way to support an artist’s practice is to be able to help pay their bills, especially during a pandemic. We leave it to the discretion of the photographer, but we were absolutely amazed to see what these talented photographers were able to accomplish in these turbulent times! We hope you’ll take the time to read these artist’s words and explore their work further by visiting their website or following them on Instagram.
“Last year… the year of the pandemic…2020… the Great Pause… what a year it was for us all. For me personally and professionally, it was a mixed bag. I struggled with loss and fear and isolation like most everyone. But I also experienced incredible inspiration, support, and recognition of my work. Through being voted into Photolucida’s Critical Mass Top 50 and winning the Michael Reichmann Project Grant Award, I connected with some of the most inspiring and talented group of photographers and creators. It also helped me move forward with a new project. As I write this, I am currently in North Carolina photographing the land and living quarters of my enslaved ancestors.
This past year has also been busy with lots of virtual artist talks, exhibitions with Pentimenti Gallery and Colorado Photographic Arts Center’s Month of Photography in Denver, acquisitions from the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and private collections, mentoring an incredibly talented group of young women with Oakwood Arts, and an amazing amount of press including a feature spread in Don’t Take Pictures.
I am beyond grateful for all of it and I thank Photolucida for assisting me in all this incredible progress with their vote of confidence and investment into my career through these awards.”
“I’m Marisol Mendez – a Bolivian photographer that uses her camera to study the tension between truth and fiction, the tight relationship between what a photograph creates and the (sur)real it comes from.
Last year I received the Michael Reichmann Project Grant for my project MADRE where I strive to challenge the embedded machismo of my country and dissect the Catholic dogmas of what the definition of femininity should be. MADRE celebrates the diversity and complexity of my native culture through the representation of different women in different contexts. Mythological elements of Andean tradition are woven into the imagery which shares elements of fiction and documentary work.
MADRE kept growing and expanding and thanks to the grant I was able to produce more work and think about transforming the project into a photobook. The recognition gave me a surge of confidence that allowed me to push my practice further and see my images reach new horizons.”
“My name is Emeke Obanor, I am a recipient of the 2020 Michael Reichmann Project Grant and Top 50 Critical Mass awardee. I am a self-taught documentary and portrait photographer, a social activist and an advocate based in Nigeria. I use photography as a medium to raise awareness around social justice issues, shining light on injustices facing people in my environment as well as across borders. I use photography to give voice to the voiceless, the marginalized, those discriminated and abused because of their gender, the oppressed, and without representation.
Thanks to Michael Reichmann Project Grant money, I have begun a body of work titled ‘Legal Rape‘ which explores the uncomfortable memories of rape victims in Nigeria, violation of their human right and their search for closure, in a society where the mindset of most people as it relates to sexual assault tends to be un-empathetic, unsympathetic and seen as a norm.
Part of the money I received to be supplemented by crowd funding will be used to start stage 2 of “Tree of Freedom” (which won Michael Reichmann Project Grant) to provide tools and resource to 40 internally displaced female victims of the Boko Haram conflict to document their lives, in their own words, from captivity to freedom to their present existence after a very traumatic experience. The project will provide a means for these girls to let their stories be told in their own words and from their own perspective, will allow these events to be properly documented and accessible to the world. It will also project an outlet for these girls to get some form of relief and closure by telling their stories and keeping the light shining on the plights of their friends still in captivity.”
“Yo! My name is André Ramos-Woodard (they/ them), and I am an artist currently based in Beaumont, Texas. I earned my BFA from Lamar University and just got my MFA from The University of New Mexico in Photography.
I received the Michael Reichmann Project Grant while I was approaching the last year of graduate school which couldn’t have been better. The timing of the award not only aided my survival during the pandemic, but it also funded my thesis project–‘BLACK SNAFU: Situation Niggas All Fucked Up’ at Trapdoor Projects in Albuquerque, New Mexico—from the photo paper, to the drawing utensils, to material for the frames I built for the work.
This past year has been indescribable. It changed all aspects of everyday life for us as human-beings in general, and as a Black, male-bodied individual in the United States the heightened recognition of racism against Black people in 2020 only added to the stress. It was literally impossible to ignore, and as an artist who makes a lot of work from my direct experience with life, a lot of that stuff was coming out in my artwork. On that note, the recognition I received from being a recipient of the grant helped put more eyes on the work I was making that feels socially pertinent. I’m really appreciative to Photolucida for being supportive of my endeavors as an artist and activist!”
“My work focuses on borders of inclusion and exclusion as they are experienced through people in sex trafficking, climate and violence-related international migration, and long-standing barriers of race and class.
Over the last year, I traveled to Tijuana in search of a new project. I wanted to explore and potentially capture how the presidential shift impacts the migrant community. The Biden presidency, I am happy to report, aided two families into the U.S. The system is still a work in progress, but it was a wonderful moment to witness.
If anything, the grant-aided me in expanding my long-term project on Immigration. For that, I am very grateful.”
This award is made possible by a generous endowment gifted to Photolucida by the Luminous Endowment for Photographers – an organization created by the late Michael Reichmann in 2007 to foster current and anticipated photography projects. Photolucida is excited to continue Michael’s legacy by providing this opportunity to emerging photographers.