Lenscratch Student Prize Second Place Winner: Dylan Hausthor
It is with pleasure that the jurors announce the 2021 Lenscratch Student Prize Second Place Winner, Dylan Hausthor. Dylan was selected for their lyrical and haunting project, What the Rain Brought, and has graduated from Yale this Spring (2021) with an MFA in Photography. The first time I saw Dylan’s photographs was like staring into the sun. A mark from such an intense glowing mass had a lasting impact on me and has been burned into my psyche since.
The work featured here (along with much of their other work) is shot in black and white. However, it has a divine luminosity reminiscent of how sunlight reflects from gold-guiled architectures through brightly colored stained-glass panels in places of worship. The lyrical images from What The Rain Brought waver between belief and non-belief, creating a moving narrative that recalls folklore and creates a unique balance of comfort and discomfort. Dylan’s interest in mythology is evident in how they forage intention and then cultivate photographs. The construction of the images and specified treatment to similar yet differing lighting conditions displace viewers from a tale that is strictly contemporary or historical, fact or fiction. Instead, observers are placed into a cerebral landscape that synthesizes a revered history related to the natural world and its tolerance to past/present/future tragedies embedded into a colonist history fraught with contending to its fallacies.
The Second Prize Winner receives: a $750 Cash Award, a FUJIFILM X-E4 Body with XF27mmF2.8 R WR Lens Kit, Silver (MSRP $1,049.95 each), a mini exhibition on the Curated Fridge, and a Lenscratch T-shirt and Tote.
An enormous thank you to our jurors: Aline Smithson, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Lenscratch, Educator and Artist, Daniel George, Submissions Editor of Lenscratch, Educator and Artist, Kellye Eisworth, Managing Editor of Lenscratch, Educator and Artist, Alexa Dilworth, Publishing Director, Senior Editor, and Awards Director at the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University, Kris Graves, Director of Kris Graves Projects, Photographer and Publisher based in New York and London, Paula Tognarelli, Director of the Griffin Museum of Photography, Hamidah Glasgow, Director of the Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO, Raymond Thompson, Jr., Artist and Educator, winner of the 2020 Lenscratch Student Prize, Guanyu Xu, Artist and Educator, winner of the 2019 Lenscratch Student Prize and Shawn Bush, Artist, Publisher and Educator, winner of the 2017 Lenscratch Student Prize.
What The Rain Brought
I was recently visiting my hometown and stopped to fill up my car with gas. I noticed a woman sitting outside the gas station drinking coffee and recognized her as my old ballet teacher. I sat down next to her and we caught up. She had been going blind in the decade since I last saw her. She had fallen out of love, started growing a garden, and found god. She had a small collection of freshly picked mushrooms next to her and handed me one, saying “mushrooms have no gender, did you know that?”
Named after David Arora’s mushroom identification guide, What The Rain Might Bring is a cross-disciplinary project that explores the complexities of storytelling, faith, folklore, and the inherent queerness of the natural world.
Small-town gossip, relationships to the land, the mysteries of wildlife, the drama of humanity, and the unpredictability of human spectacle inspire the stories in these images. I’m fascinated by the instability of storytelling and hope to enable character and landscape to act as gossip in their own right: cross-pollinating and synthesizing. Class structure, ruralism, the ghosts that haunt landscapes, and disentangling colonial narratives are what drive these images and videos.
The often disregarded underbelly of a post-fact world seems to be the simultaneous beauty and danger of fiction. I’m interested in photography as a medium of hybridity and nuance—weavings of myth filled with tangents and nuances, treading the lines between investigative journalism, performance, acts of obsession, and self-conscious manipulation. Photography’s ability to promote belief is a power not dissimilar to that of faith. I hope for these images to act as tarot cards, and the viewers exist as the medium between fiction and reality—to push past questions of validity that form the base tradition of colonialism in storytelling and folklore and into a much more human sense of reality: faulted, broken, and real.
Dylan Hausthor is an artist based on a small island off the coast of Maine, New Haven, CT, Massachusetts, and southern Vermont. Their work is an act of hybridity–an effort to render field recordings into myth. Interested in small-town gossip and the fragility of journalistic truth, they look for stories that are found at the end of dirt roads and in the tops of fir trees. Hausthor received their BFA from Maine College of Art and is a current MFA candidate at Yale University. Their work has been showcased nationally and internationally by the Aperture Foundation, British Journal of Photography, Photo District News, PHMuseum, Vice, Gomma, World Press Photo, LensCulture, Vogue, and the permanent collection at MoMA’s library. They are a 2019 recipient of a Nancy Graves fellowship for visual artists, runner-up for the Aperture Portfolio Prize, nominated for Prix Pictet 2021, a recipient of the Ellis-Beauregard grant and residency, and the winner of Burn Magazine’s Emerging Photographer’s Fund. They currently work as a farmer.
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