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Bard College Student Wins Davis Projects For Peace Prize

Mark Primoff
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Bard College student Alexis Parra ’18 has won a 2018 Davis Projects for Peace prize. Parra, who is from St. Paul, Minnesota, will receive $10,000 to spend the summer in her family’s home country of Venezuela, where she will work with a local arts collective to implement her project, “Truth in Image Making: Empowering Caracas’ Youth through the Art of Photography.” Recent images representing the socio-economic and political tensions in Venezuela, from sources such as the New York Times, speak to the power of the photographic image. Yet, many of the images represent Venezuelan citizens as dirty, poor, and helpless. Contrastingly, native Venezuelan photographers – sometimes with nothing but cellphones as equipment – are out in the streets documenting the strength, complexity, and resilience of Venezuelans during this tumultuous time.

For her project, Parra will facilitate a two-part workshop for young Venezuelans to learn photographic techniques and explore new equipment at a local arts collective. Participants will then take Polaroid cameras for a few days at a time to make images in their spaces, in their neighborhoods, and with their families. Young people will explore their everyday lives in a creative sense and discover how they want to represent themselves and share their story. The workshop will culminate in an exhibition to show their work—and their subjective truths—as young Venezuelans. This project includes talks for the community with local artists that are centered on understanding and discussing image making in a time of crisis. Parra will help local artists and educators continue this work beyond her stay in Caracas. Funds provided by the Davis prize, will allow the local arts collective to acquire the basic amount of equipment – a DLSR, tripod, light, Polaroid cameras and film – needed to continue the workshop in a practical manner.

“Through exploring photography and the process of image making, interested youth will hopefully find their agency, further engage their creativity, and share their narratives in a time when the world is seeing them not as who they are, but as symbols of what the government or the crisis represent. Not only will they combat this lack of representation, but they will cultivate a space for the storytelling and understanding which, in a time of crisis, are vital to peace building,” says Parra.

Projects for Peace was created in 2007 through the generosity of Kathryn W. Davis, a lifelong internationalist and philanthropist who believed that today’s youth—tomorrow’s leaders—ought to be challenged to formulate and test their own ideas.

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This event was last updated on 03-20-2018