The CENTER Awards recognize outstanding images in three categories: Personal, Social, and Environmental. All submissions will become part of the CENTER archive serving as an ongoing mission-driven fine art and documentary imagery resource. Images may be singular or part of a series. One winner is selected for each Personal, Social, and Environmental Award.
The Personal Award recognizes work engaging in the exploration, expression, and/or advocacy of oneself drawing awareness to the power of self-representation or underrepresented experiences. Projects related to identity, self-improvement, mental health, individualism, accessibility, disability, or other topics exploring self-empowerment are encouraged to apply.
The Social Award recognizes work amplifying social issues. This category highlights projects in which the artist has a vested interest in is a member of or is an advocate for a specific social cause and/or community.
The Environmental Award recognizes work focusing on the state of the ecological environment. Topics may include but are not limited to, conservation, biodiversity, ecology, climate change, or other issues concerning the natural world. All projects exploring ecological relationships, topics, or themes are eligible.
2021 Award Recipients
PERSONAL AWARD: Lizzy Cross, Brooklyn, NY; Window Peeps
From the statement – “I was emerging from a long period of withdrawal from society due to multiple chronic illnesses, freshly divorced and moved back across the country when COVID-19 required us all to isolate. But this time, incredibly, the illness was not mine. I was alive and thriving for the first time in nearly a decade. I had healed in miraculous ways, essentially and entirely reborn. Slowly climbing out from severe food allergies and sensitivities, a few simple things prepared at restaurants had just been successfully reintroduced. It was thrilling, it truly opened up my world. I could see friends easily, and enjoy nourishment for the first time possibly ever. “
SOCIAL AWARD: Peter Merts, San Francisco, CA; Incarcerated Artists
From the statement – “This project shows California prison inmates discovering, developing, and occasionally mastering artistic expression; it celebrates the humanity of these men and women and the authenticity of their creative pursuits.”
ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD: Ella Morton, Toronto, Ontario; The Dissolving Landscape
From the statement – “The Dissolving Landscape is a series of experimental analog photographs that examine climate change in the Arctic and Subarctic landscapes of Canada and Nordic Europe. The project asks the question: what are we losing, in terms of our spiritual connection to the land, as the climate rapidly changes? I consider myself a poetic activist, articulating the profundity of our relationship with the land, and the emotional complexity of its change and loss as global warming unfolds.”
PERSONAL: Merry Scully – Head of Curatorial Affairs, Curator of Contemporary Art, New Mexico Museum of Art
Currently the Head of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Contemporary Art at the New Mexico Museum of Art. Merry Scully has been a curator for exhibitions of contemporary and historic art, photography, and design in locations across the country including the New Mexico Museum of Art, San Francisco Art Institute, and The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Previous positions include Curator of the Governor’s Gallery for Bill and Barbara Richardson and curator of Special Projects at the New Mexico Museum of Art. Prior to moving to New Mexico, she was Director of Exhibitions and the Associate Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs at the San Francisco Art Institute and Administrative Director for the Fellows of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
Merry has worked as a director in various arts organizations including private foundations, commercial galleries, and alternative and artists-run arts organizations. Prior to graduate school, Merry was the assistant to the artistic director and later ran the gallery program for Social and Public Art Resource in Venice, California; an intern in the Media and Performing Arts Department at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The area of research and interest is post-1945 art with an emphasis on the west coast, conceptual and political practice. Merry’s graduate and undergraduate degrees include the study of both studio practice and art history. While in graduate school at the University of New Mexico Merry was the Director of Richard Levy Gallery, and worked for Graham Gallery/Raw Space and the Jonson Gallery.
Read the Juror Statement
SOCIAL: CENTER Jury – Jury of Panelists from the CENTER Team: staff, former grant recipients and an Advisory Council member
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ENVIRONMENTAL: Melissa Dale – Interim Director of Photography, The Nature Conservancy
Melissa Dale believes in the power of photography to engage, inform, and inspire. And to change the world. She is passionate about creative collaboration and joyfully works with a global network of photographers to create photographic stories that awaken curiosity and compassion for the natural world.
For nearly 20 years, Melissa has been a leading advocate of photography at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the world’s leading environmental conservation organization. TNC works in over 70 countries and envisions a world where the diversity of life thrives, and people act to conserve nature for its own sake and its ability to fulfill our needs and enrich our lives.
She has held a variety of positions at TNC, including director of photography for Nature Conservancy, TNC’s award-winning magazine, and currently serves as the interim director of photography for the Global Marketing Division.
Melissa began her career as a social documentary photographer and newspaper photo editor. She then had a most fortunate opportunity to merge her love of photography with natural history storytelling as a photo editor for National Geographic Books.
Read the Juror Statement