2018 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography Presented to Mark Peterson for exploring modern-day American Confederacy and White Nationalism
The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund announces that Mark Peterson is the recipient of this year’s $35,000 Grant in Humanistic Photography for his project, The Past is Never Dead. Selected from a talented group of nine finalists,* Mr. Peterson looks at the organizations, political parties and candidates bringing the message of white supremacy to the halls of various state and local governments. The Eugene Smith Grant will help Peterson further explore the social life of the resurgent Confederacy, the removal of Confederate statues, names on schools and streets, and record the process of the long-term impact of these initiatives. Mr. Peterson’s project was selected among 314 entries from 53 countries, the most ever submitted to the Smith Grant since its inception in 1980.
The annual grant was presented to Mr. Petersonduring the organization’s 39thannual awards ceremony at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Theater in New York City Wednesday evening. “I am truly honored to be this year’s recipient of the Smith Grant. Smith’s pictures are so powerful and his passion so real that he has been a great influence for my work,”Mark Peterson told attendees of the annual award ceremony Wednesday evening. “I hope my pictures shine a light on the civil war in this country. The Smith Grant will help me continue this work as I look at the communities affected by this divide.”
The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund is presented annually to photographers whose work is judged by a panel of experts to be in the best tradition of the compassionate dedication exhibited by W. Eugene Smith during his 45-year career in photojournalism. The grant, along with fellowships and other special awards, enable recipients to undertake and complete worthy photojournalistic projects.
“The judges were extremely impressed with the urgency of Mr. Peterson’s work, and his commitment and courage in revealing a difficult and enormously relevant subject in society today,” explained Stephen Frailey, Smith Fund board member and the Chair of this year’s Smith Grant adjudication committee. “Participating as a judge in this competition gave us tremendous insight to the range of narratives from around the world by so many remarkable photographers. The passion and intelligence each one brings to their respective picture stories is quite evident, and the strength and conviction of work submitted was inspirational.” Joining Stephen Frailey on the adjudication committee were Jody Quon, Photography Director at New York Magazine and Azu Nwagbogu, Founder and Director of African Artists’ Foundations (AAF) based in Nigeria.
Project Description(submitted by photographer):
THE PAST IS NEVER DEAD
I am photographing the modern-day American confederacy and White Nationalism by taking a close look at its traditions, symbols and leaders, documenting inside homes, schools, and on the streets, as this political and cultural movement establishes the contemporary incarnation of white supremacy.
This is a violent movement wrapped in the language of reclamation, patriotism and cultural heritage. It’s central aim is the dismantling of decades of civil rights, immigration and gender equality legislation and the promotion of a revisionist history which claims slavery wasn’t such a bad thing.
For more information about the W. Eugene Smith Fund, please visit