THE CENTER AWARDS: Me&Eve Grant: Heather Evans Smith
Congratulations to Heather Evans Smith for being selected for CENTER’s Me&Eve Grant recognizing her project, Blue. The Me&Eve Grant provides financial support to a woman, female-identified, non-binary, transgender, gender non-conforming, or two-spirited photographer, 40 years of age and over in its fourth year. This grant is made possible by Review Santa Fe alumna, Dorie Hagler, whose project Me&Eve amplifies the voices of women. Initiated in 2016 on International Women’s Day, this project was inspired after seeing the transformative effects of witnessing women share their stories. The Grant includes a $1,000 cash award, Mentorship, Professional Development Workshop Admission, Complimentary participation and presentation at Review Santa Fe, Group Exhibition of Award & Grant Winners at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, Project Publication in Lenscratch & Feature Shoot, and inclusion in the CENTER Image Library & Archive. Also, new in 2022, and in alignment with CENTER’s response for recognition of equity and representation in the field, all Me&Eve applicants will be invited to contribute to SHOTBYWOMEN – an Image Bank platform for license and distribution of content created exclusively by women and female-identifying photographers from around the world.
JUROR: Sarah Leen, Founder & Editor, Visual Thinking Collective shares her thoughts on this selection:
For many, this has been a very difficult year. As I read the Artist Statements and looked at the images submitted for the Me&Eve Grant, I was struck by how often the words depression, loss, grief, heartbreak, and time were repeated to describe the work. Some wonderful projects did celebrate nature, childhood, the body, and the peace that comes with acceptance, but overwhelmingly the submitted work was about struggle.
I feel privileged to have been allowed to see the bearing of so many souls and how making the images were often the antidote. It was an intimate experience.
It was not an easy task to choose only one project to receive this Grant. I was very impressed to see the diverse ways the photographers chose to tell their stories and to create images that reflected states of being that are often more felt than seen.
For this fourth Me&Eve grant I have chosen Blue by Heather Evans Smith.
Blue is a poetic essay that explores the personal experience of depression in mid-life. Smith created a melancholic yet tender essay that explores the complex feelings around aging and the death of her father as a way to help her find “a new place amongst the loss.” These images were also a comfort to me as they so gently embraced the sadness that can arise during the very universal changes that mid-life can bring to us all.
I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time with all of the artists who shared their images and their hearts. Thank you.
Sarah Leen became the first female Director of Photography at National Geographic Partners in 2013. In late 2019 she founded the Visual Thinking Collective, a community for independent women photo editors, teachers, and curators dedicated to visual storytelling.
Leen works with individual photographers and agencies consulting and editing projects and books including the 2020 FotoEvidence and World Press Photo Book Award winner HABIBI by Antonio Faccilongo, Anders Wo by Petra Barth, and Like a Bird by Johanna-Maria Fritz.
Heather Evans Smith is a photo-based artist whose work reflects her southern roots, motherhood, womanhood and a whimsical imagination she relied on as an only child in a rural town. Her photographic imagery explores the ideas of memory, loss and family in conceptual settings. Smith’s work has been exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions at venues including the Fox Talbot Museum in Lacock, England, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, NC and Leica Galerie Milano in Milan, Italy. She is a Critical Mass 2014, 2018 and 2021 Top 50 recipient as well as a 2022 Silver List artist. Her first monograph, Seen Not Heard, was published by Flash Powder Projects in 2016 followed by her self-published monograph, Alterations, in 2020. She resides with her family in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Follow Heather on Instagram: @heatherevanssmith
Some say my dad’s death was the spark that ignited my depression, but this feeling has been brewing for a while. I started to notice a sadness creep in a few years into my 40s. I searched “depression in women” and stumbled across articles stating women are the most depressed at age 44. I was, at that very moment, 44.
Loss during this time in a woman’s life can weigh heavily. Children are getting older and need the comfort of a parent less; the health of one’s own parent(s) is starting to fail, and hormonal shifts begin.
By using the color blue, which for hundreds of years has been associated with melancholy and sadness, these images evoke this period in my life and how it affects those around me. A mid-point, as I am stripping down, taking stock, and finding a new place amongst the loss.
Heather Evans Smith recently opened an exhibition of Blue at Cassilhaus, that runs through August, 2022 and she will also be releasing an artist’s book in August.
Book Signing and Straggler’s Closing – Thursday, August 11, 2022, 7-9PM
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