The Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) has announced that Fazal Sheikh of Zurich, Switzerland is the recipient of the sixth Lou Stoumen Prize in Photography, a prestigious international award that highlights a mid-career photographer whose work deals broadly with the concepts of humanity.
Accomplished writer, photographer and filmmaker, Louis C. Stoumen had established the gift with MOPA when the museum received his archive in 1991. MOPA invited international nominators in 2015 to choose a contemporary photographer whose work relates in spirit to Stoumen’s humanistic style as was described by Stoumen himself when the gift was set up: “My general sense now is that the grantees should be chosen not for the novelty, technical innovation or fame of their work,” Stoumen said. “They should be photographers whose work is distinguished by heart, enterprise, compassion, sustained productivity, and an awed over-riding sense of the community of life forms on this fragile earth – all of that realized in beautiful memorable photographic prints.”
Nominated by Malcolm Daniel from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Sheikh was selected as the prizewinner for his portrait work with people from around the world living in displaced and marginalized communities.
“Fazal is brilliant, he’s one of the best and most talented photographers working today,” MOPA executive director Deborah Klochko said. “He combines a direct approach while capturing the profound emotions and dignity of people in marginalized situations and communities. His work transcends traditional documentary, creating a new way of engaging with his subjects.”
Born in New York City, Sheikh graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in 1987. Since then, he has documented the lives of individuals in East Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Brazil, Cuba, India and Israel/Palestine as a photographer. His primary medium is portraiture, which also includes personal narratives, archival material and text. Sheikh works closely with human rights organizations and aims “to contribute to a wider understanding of these groups, to respect them as individuals and to counter the ignorance and prejudice that often attaches to them,” according to his biography.
The Lou Stoumen Prize includes a monetary award of $20,000, an award ceremony and the addition of 10 photographs from Sheikh’s work to MOPA’s permanent collection. The award ceremony to honor Sheikh will be held Sept. 15 -16, 2016, at MOPA. Further information about the ceremony will be announced at a later date.
The 2016 Lou Stoumen Prize nominators included:
- Andy Grundberg, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design
- Claire Carter, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
- Heather Snider, SF Camerawork
- Itala Schmelz, Centro de la imagen
- Julia Durkin, Auckland Festival of Photography
- Julian Stallabrass, Courtauld Institute of Art
- Junko Ogawa, Magnum Photos Tokyo
- Kathy Ryan, The New York Times Magazine
- Malcolm Daniel, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
- Michiko Kasahara, temporary office, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
- Natasha Egan, Museum of Contemporary Photography
- Nelson Ramirez de Arellano, Fototeca de Cuba
- Nissan Perez, Shpilman Institute for Photography
- Paul Roth, Ryerson Image Centre
- Sam Barzilay, United Photo Industries
- Yuko Yamaji, Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts
Previous recipients of the Lou Stoumen Prize were Debbie Fleming Caffery (1996), Kenro Izu (1999), James Nachtwey (2002), Gary Schneider (2006) and Mikhael Subotzky (2009).