The 2021 Arnold Newman Prize Winner, Finalists and Jurors

Congratulations to our 2021 Arnold Newman Prize winner and finalists! We’d also like to thank our jurors and all of those who submitted their work for this competition. You can also see more of our past and current prize winners and learn more about the Arnold Newman Prize.

2021 Winner

Rashod Taylor – “Little Black Boy”

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.

– Rashod Taylor

About the artist

Rashod TaylorRashod Taylor (b.1985) is a contemporary photographer whose work is a window into the Black American experience. Taylor attended Murray State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in Art with a specialization in Fine Art Photography. Most recently his work was acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts Houston for his series Little Black Boy. He is also the 2021 recipient of the Arnold Newman Prize For New Directions in Photographic Portraiture. Taylor is working on a series, Little Black Boy. He documents his son’s life and his own anxieties of fatherhood in the face of a society confronting enduring prejudice, injustice, and racism. In this ongoing longform project, Taylor addresses themes of family, race, culture and legacy through portraiture.

Large and medium format process favored by the Artist is a contentious nod to the gravity of content and intention of frame. This format also disarms subjects by slowing time and heightens tension by raising intimacy.

Taylor’s editorial clients include National Geographic, Essence Magazine, ProPublica, Buzzfeed News, among others. His work has also been featured in CNN, The Atlantic, FeatureShoot and Lenscratch.

Rashod Taylor lives in Springfield MO, with his wife and son. | @rashodtaylorphoto

2021 Finalist

Golden – “On Learning How to Live”

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?’

– Golden

About the artist

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). | @goldenthem_

2021 Finalist

Christian K Lee – “Armed Doesn’t Mean Dangerous”

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.

– Christian K Lee

About the artist

“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.” | @chrisklee_jpeg

2021 Finalist

Donavon Smallwood – “Languor”

‘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.

– Donavon Smallwood

About the artist

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. | @xdonavon

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2021 Jurors

Daniella Zalcman

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

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

Lisa Volpe is the Associate Curator, of 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.

All images are subject to copyright.