The CENTER Awards: The Editor’s Choice 1st Place Award: Morgan Ashcom
Last week and this week, Lenscratch will be celebrating the 2014 CENTER Award Winners. We are thrilled to align with such a wonderful organization that honors, supports, and provides opportunities to gifted and committed photographers. For 20 years, CENTER has launched careers, provided incredible exposure and inspired photographers to create work that excites and challenges the photographic dialogue.
Today we celebrate Morgan Ashcom‘s Editor’s Choice 1st Place Award starting with juror, Cheryl Newman’s, statement.
EDITOR’S CHOICE: Juror’s Statement
JUROR CHERYL NEWMAN, Photography Director, Telegraph Magazine & ST Titles, England
I’d like to thank the all the photographers who entered the 2014 CENTER Choice Awards and for making the judging such an exciting and profoundly thought provoking experience. The passionate photography made the process both a pleasure and pain as great images disappeared or progressed to the next round. The artists whose work I had the pleasure to shortlist are committed to their chosen projects, using empathy and imagination to explore the world though their individual photographic language.
For the past few days I have looked at the work on my short list chosen from hundreds of entries after days of deliberation. I have slept on it, which didn’t help, pondered and reflected the different stories, styles and genres. Truth is the work of all of the finalists is very strong and I now have an attachment to all of it.
Morgan Ashcom’s observational images are mysterious and although documentary they are part fact part fiction and have a poetry that I love. Charlie Simokaitis’ curious images are layered and ambiguous which I find the provocative and fascinating. I had to rush online and buy a copy of Mateusz Sarello’s awesome book ‘Swell’ as soon as I saw his work.
I would like to congratulate Morgan Ashcom; you are a deserved first award winner. I was drawn into the mystery of your storytelling and the images remain with me.— Cheryl Newman, Photography Director, Telegraph Magazine & ST Titles, England
What the Living Carry (a project in progress)
Three years ago, I moved to a city four hundred miles from the farm where I grew up. Around that time, my family entered a period of turmoil, and I found myself traveling back and forth on a regular basis. During these visits, out of a need for escape or sheer compulsion, I would go on walks to clear my head. I found myself drawn to the woods where I spent a lot of time in solitude.
The title What the Living Carry was taken from a passage in Cormac McCarthy’s novel Suttree:
How surely are the dead beyond death. Death is what the living carry with them. A state of dread, like some uncanny foretaste of a bitter memory. But the dead do not remember and nothingness is not a curse. Far from it.
On several occasions in the story, Suttree escapes into the woods for weeks at a time where he is accompanied by visions.
While in the woods, I found pockets of wilderness, many of them nestled between rural and urban areas, and they were sometimes lightly populated. My interactions with the people I met and my responses to them provided some seeds for the photographs in this series. One of them remarked to me, “Depending on how long you been out here, you’d be surprised as to the things that can crawl into your brain.” Every place and every person has their secrets or demons, and often they’re passed down through the generations in families and communities. I can see a part of myself, and characters I’ve come to know, tabernacled in these photographs which are an indiscernible amalgamation of observation, imagination, and experience.
Morgan Ashcom was born and raised on a farm in rural Virginia. His photographs explore the mystery behind the visible world, and are a combination of imagination, observation and experience.
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