The 2021 Arnold Newman Prize For New Directions in Photographic Portraiture
The Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Photographic Portraiture is a $20,000 prize awarded annually to a photographer whose work demonstrates a compelling new vision in photographic portraiture. In addition to the winner, the jury selects three finalists each year who are invited to participate in an exhibit at the Griffin Museum of Photography. The Prize is generously funded by the Arnold & Augusta Newman Foundation and proudly administered by Maine Media Workshops + College. The Griffin Museum of Photography hosts the annual exhibition of work by the winner and three finalists each October.
Congratulations to our 2021 Winner and Finalists!
Rashod Taylor – “Little Black Boy”
Rashod Taylor (b.1985) is an emerging contemporary photographer who uses the frameworks and methods allied with the history of fine art portraiture to contemplate his own family’s narrative within contemporary America. His photographs are deeply rooted to photographic traditions and break new ground. Intimacy and honesty speak to an under-addressed chapter of the United States: The Black American experience, particularly the relationship between father and son is a focus of his work. Taylor is attached to analog practice- the large format camera, the slowing down and honoring of the moment, and the attraction to the rich, lush prints produced from his home darkroom all such factors underline his sentimentality, thoughtfulness, and ally him to the history of family portraiture while adding to its legacy- its future. Taylor attended Murray State University and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Art with a specialization in Fine Art Photography. He has since exhibited and been published nationally and internationally.
Images courtesy of Rashod Taylor
“My work addresses themes of race, culture, family, and Legacy and these images are a kind of family album, filled with friends and family, birthdays, vacations, and everyday life. At the same time, these images tell you more than my family story; they’re a window onto the Black American experience. As I document my son I am interested in examining his childhood and the world he navigates. At the same time these images show my own unspoken anxiety and fragility as it pertains to the wellbeing of my son and fatherhood. At times I worry if he will be ok as he goes to school or as he plays outside with friends as children do. These feelings are enhanced due to the realities of growing up black in America. He can’t live a carefree childhood as he deserves; there is a weight that comes with his blackness, a weight that he is not ready to bear. It’s my job to bear this weight as I am accustomed to the sorrows and responsibility it brings, the weight of injustice, prejudices, and racism that has been interwoven in our society and institutional systems for hundreds of years. I help him through this journey of childhood as I hope one day this weight will be lifted.”
Golden – “On Learning How to Live”
Golden (they/them) is a black gender-nonconforming trans-femme photographer, poet, & community organizer raised in Hampton, VA (Kikotan land), currently residing in Boston, MA (Massachusett people land).
Golden is the recipient of a Pink Door Fellowship (2017/2019), an Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Luminaries Fellowship (2019), the Frontier Award for New Poets (2019), a Best of the Net Award (2020), a Pushcart Prize nomination (wildness, 2019 & Glass Poetry, 2020), a City of Boston Artist-in-Residence (2020-2021), a Mass Cultural Council Fellowship in Photography (2021), & a Women Photograph Project Grant (2021).
Their work has been featured on/at Shade Literary Arts, the Offing, Button Poetry, Vogue, Buzzfeed, i-D, Interview Magazine, the Boston Globe, & elsewhere. Golden holds a BFA in Photography from New York University (2018).
Images courtesy of Golden
“It’s been pandemonium since the beginning for black people in the United States. Even in 2020, with the rise of a global health pandemic and hate-based violence streamlining from white nationalism, black trans people were statistically murdered at a higher rate than ever before. Every day I wake up with no manual on how we are going to make it; how to survive the unseeable threats of named weapons. But this isn’t new.
In response to grief, ‘On Learning How to Live’ documents black trans life at the intersections of survival and living in the United States. These self-portraits act as a living archive, a resistance framework, a world within a country that doesn’t want black trans people alive. Whether stating, I just want to wear my orange dress to the tennis courts & come back home unbothered, while in my home in Boston, MA, or sharing, I’m searching for & from freedom, while at my Grannie’s house in Pocomoke City, MD, these portraits reveal vulnerable windows into questions I ask myself daily: ‘What people do I belong to? How will they remember me? If there is a headline for my death will they name me as I am, or how the government perceives me to be?'”
Christian K Lee – “Armed Doesn’t Mean Dangerous”
“UNDERSTANDING. If I could think of one word that really summed up why I continuously pick up my camera it would be that one word. I want to understand People of all backgrounds and over the years I have used my camera to do that.”
Currently, Christian K Lee’s work explores the complicated relationship between the 2nd Amendment and African Americans. His work has been featured in The Washington Post, Rolling Stone and National Geographic. It has also received recognition from the Royal Photographic Society, Lucie Foundation and the Sony World Photography Awards.
“I learned photography just as one would learn to ride a bike. Sometimes you fall but all the falls are worth the ride and I’m having a great ride. My camera and I have rode all over the country making photos together. As Far East as D.C. and as far west as L.A. During that time I’ve held internships with The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press.”
Image courtesy of Christian K Lee
“In the United States, Gun ownership is a constitutional right, however, history shows us when African Americans assert these rights they are infringed upon.
This fact was witnessed in 1967 with the introduction of the Mulford Act. It was a California bill that targeted members of the Black Panthers who were exercising their rights to open carry. In order to fully obtain the American Dream, I feel a deep passion to exercise all of the rights granted to me including my Second Amendment rights.
In my hometown of Chicago, IL, USA, I routinely saw negative portrayals of African Americans with guns: Black men there and in the rest of the country were associated with gangs and criminality, and guns were always deemed dangerous in their hands. But at home, I saw a positive, responsible side of firearms ownership: My father was an Army veteran and a police officer. I became a gun owner myself — one of the 24 percent of African Americans who report owning guns, according to Pew Research Center. They, like me, are comfortable exercising their Second Amendment rights.
The point of this project is to recondition myself, and others, toward the more positive view of Black people and guns: to promote a more balanced archive of images of African Americans with firearms by showing responsible gun owners — those who use these weapons for sport, hobby and protection. I hope these photos bring that important point into focus.”
Donavon Smallwood – “Languor”
Donavon Smallwood received his BA from Hunter College in 2016. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2021 Aperture Portfolio Prize and the 2021 Daylight Photo Award. Periodical features and editorial clients include The Atlantic, FT Magazine, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and more. Languor, his first monograph, is set to be published by Trespasser in fall 2021.
All images courtesy of Donavon Smallwood
“‘Languor’ is a project that presents itself as an interaction between images of NYC’s Central Park landscape and genuine portraits taken within the space. With the history of the park being constructed by using eminent domain to strip landowning African-Americans of their property/homes in mind, many of which formed this community to escape the unhealthy conditions and racism found in the other inhabited parts of Manhattan – the work is an examination of nature, the negation of civilization, home, and [the possibility of] escape; centering black tranquility among the chaos of nature space, history, and life today.”
Thank you to our 2021 Jurors!
- Daniella Zalcman is a Vietnamese-American documentary photographer based in New Orleans, LA. She is a 2021 Catchlight Fellow, a multiple grantee of the National Geographic Society and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a fellow with the International Women’s Media Foundation, and the founder of Women Photograph, a nonprofit working to elevate the voices of women and nonbinary visual journalists.
- Brent Lewis is a photo editor from Chicago, United States, based out of New York City, and co-founder of Diversify Photo. He is a photo editor at The New York Times working on various topics across the newsroom. Formerly, he was the Sports photo editor at The Washington Post, and before that served as the senior photo editor of ESPN’s The Undefeated, where he crafted the visual language of the site that focused on the intersection of sports, race, and culture. Before turning to photo editing, he was a staff photojournalist at The Denver Post, The Rockford Register Star and the Chillicothe Gazette.
- Lisa Volpe is the Associate Curator, Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Before arriving in Houston, she was the Curator of the Wichita Art Museum where she oversaw all areas of the museum’s collection. Additionally, she held various curatorial roles at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA), and fellowships at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Join us for our 2021 Arnold Newman Prize exhibition, hosted by the Griffin Museum of Photography, this October. Stay tuned for more details!
Arnold Newman had an insatiable fascination with people and the physical world around him. In his work, he constantly explored the boundaries of portraiture and embodied the spirit of artistic innovation. He was also a passionate teacher–he taught at Maine Media Workshops + College every summer for over 30 years. In honor of Arnold’s legacy as both a photographer and mentor, The Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Photographic Portraiture recognizes excellence in a new generation of photographers by awarding $20,000 to a winning photographer and elevating the work of the winner and three finalists in press and through an exhibition at the Griffin Museum of Photography. The prize, the second largest in the United States, is designed to assist the winner in continuing the pursuit of their work and to serve as a launching pad for the next phase of their careers.
The 2022 Call for Entries will open in the Summer of 2022.
History of the Prize
The prize was established in 2009 by the Arnold and Augusta Newman Foundation. Maine Media Workshops + College has proudly administered the prize since 2016. Beginning with the 2017 prize, three finalists are selected each year in addition to the winner. In 2018, Maine Media partnered with the Griffin Museum of Photography to host an annual exhibition of work by the winner and finalists each year.
Since 2009, eleven artists have been awarded the prize:
- 2010: Emily Schiffer
- 2011: Jason Larkin
- 2012: Steven Laxton
- 2013: Wayne Lawrence
- 2014: Ilona Szwarc
- 2015: Nancy Borowick
- 2016: Sian Davey
- 2017: Daniella Zalcman [Finalists: Sophie Barbasch, Daniel Coburn, Jessica Eve Rattner]
- 2018: Viktoria Sorochinski [Finalists: Juul Kraijer, Francesco Pergolesi , Donna Pinckley]
- 2019: Louie Palu [Finalists: Jess T. Dugan, Cheryle St. Onge, Bryan Thomas]
- 2020: Jon Henry [Finalists: Michael Darough, Priya Kambli, Rubén Salgado]
ARNOLD NEWMAN AND MAINE MEDIA WORKSHOPS
Arnold Newman began his relationship with Maine in the late 1970’s, traveling from his home in New York City each summer to join a host of other renowned photographers in Rockport, who were teaching at the Maine Photographic Workshops, now known as Maine Media Workshops. For Arnold, Maine was a place of inspiration and rejuvenation and the Workshops a place to see old friends, be immersed in photography and share his work and experiences through teaching. He never came to Maine for just his workshop; it was always a longer stay. For more than thirty years, Arnold and his wife Augusta were vital influences among the Workshops community.
I first met Arnold at the Workshops in the summer of 1990. On a hot summer night, I sat in the crowded Union Hall Theater to listen to his lecture, and see the images illustrating his long and extraordinary life as a photographer. It was a lecture he would give every year, and each year, he would begin by asking the young photographers in the audience if they knew of the notable subjects in his photographs – always imploring that we must know our history, telling his audience, “we learn from the past.”
It would be a very long lecture. Arnold loved to tell stories. His stories are pretty hard to beat – how many people can share with you their personal account of photographing the man responsible for curing polio or, every President since Truman? Photographing Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank, on the day the Anne Frank House opened to the public or nearly every artist of note in the 20th century? About spending a day with Picasso? Being with Arnold was like being with a walking, talking history book.
I, like so many others in that crowded Union Hall Theater for Arnold’s slide show, was captivated by the way each image appeared to emerge from the innermost essence of the sitter. These were not ordinary pictures of people. Rather, they evinced the spirits of individuals engaged in their various pursuits, their innermost psyches, and their most honest moments. He has provided the world some of the most memorably significant and truest depictions of important figures in the areas of politics, sciences, and of course, the arts. For many admirers of these subjects, Arnold’s are the quintessential images.
During his extended visits to the Workshops, Arnold would act as an unofficial artist in residence. Many would enjoy the company of Arnold and Augusta for meals under the dining tent, where Arnold would regale his listeners with yet more stories. After all, he had a lifetime of extraordinary experiences to share! Frequently, Arnold would ask young photographers to come sit with him and would ask to see their work. On more than one occasion, one of those informal portfolio reviews launched the career of a now well regarded photographer.
Arnold was always a teacher, when he was in the classroom, delivering a lecture, or even just sharing a meal. To learn from Arnold, was to learn from a great master of craft, a visionary photographer and genuinely learned man. He helped many understand, in a most profound way, what it is to be an artist. I am now a teacher. My students know that I do so love to tell “Arnold” stories, stories of my time working with him and to recount his many stories as a way to teach history. To a great extent, it was through these stories that I learned.
The life and work of Arnold Newman have had tremendous impact on the world, on those who know him only through his photographs as well as on those who have had the great fortune to know him personally. He shared with the world his keen observations of the great figures in our history; now, he is a part of that history, and an indelible part of the history of the Workshops.
~ Elizabeth Thomsen Greenberg, Rockport, March 2010