Lenscratch Student Prize, First Place: Lauren Kelly
This week we are celebrating the 2016 LENSCRATCH Student Prize Winners, starting with Lauren Kelly, who garnered First Place for her project, Echoes – Growing Up With PTSD: A consequence of Juvenile Rape. We received a stellar group of submissions, reflecting insightful work and an exciting next generation of visual artists. We were struck by the profoundly personal interpretations of subjects that speak to gender, sexuality, equality, and family–and we are truly grateful to all who submitted. LENSCRATCH Editors Grant Gill, Sarah Stankey, and I poured over the projects and had a difficult time narrowing the list to seven photographers. Congratulations to the winners–we can’t wait to follow your photographic journeys.
Lauren Kelly’s project, Echoes – Growing Up With PTSD: A consequence of Juvenile Rape is powerful in its revelatory subject matter, but also in the brilliance of its narrative and visual interpretations. I viewed this project having seen the recent documentary, The Hunting Ground, and having read John Krakauer’s Missoula, so this subject was much on my mind–as a woman, I am hyper aware of the global travesty of sexual assault. Lauren’s project shed new light on an important subject, which was rooted in the personal, yet universal in the articulation of the work. It is brave, relevant and significant work that hopefully helps bring this subject out of the shadows, removing stigmas and setting victims on a course of healing. Bearing witness, feeling heard and seen, and using art to create change are powerful weapons in this effort.
Echoes – Growing Up With PTSD: A consequence of Juvenile Rape
At 14 years old, Lauren was raped for the first time and would not be diagnosed with PTSD for another five years because she felt unable to tell someone. Unfortunately, her story is not an uncommon one. In our society, rape and sexual assault are incredibly common issues. In Lauren Kelly’s series, Echoes – Growing Up With PTSD: A consequence of Juvenile Rape, she conducted interviews with three women who were at varying levels of dealing with their trauma. The images based on these interviews often seem comforting at first, but become colored by the trauma described in the interviews. PTSD affects the part of the brain that allows people to distinguish between past and present memories. Many women experience triggers in places that simply remind them of where their trauma took place, thus creating echoes of memories that exist in no particular space or time. When the viewer interacts with the images through the interviews, they become witness to these stories as a close family member or friend would be. Through encouraging more people to be active witnesses, Lauren hopes to encourage more sufferers of sexual trauma to break their silence as she was able to.
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LENSCRATCH Student Prize Honorable Mention Winner: Zhao QianJuly 16th, 2017