A.J. Zelina Emerging Young Photographer Grant
For Emerging Young Photographers
Jeri Gravlin - UT, United States
Create a new body of work that is an exploration of the deep connection humans have with nature that will highlight the negative effects alongside the positive effects humans have on the natural world. A series of portraits with humans being affected by our lack of caring for the earth and then portraits of individuals trying to fix the same problems. The main message is the importance of caring for our beautiful and fragile planet that humans are a part of, not separate from.
This body of images will be a call for action and will give the viewer the tools to take the first steps for creating positive change. An example image set would be a look into the smog problem where I currently reside in Salt Lake City, Utah. I envision an image of a young child sitting inside his/her home staring out the window with a respirator on. The subject has a deep desire to want to go outside to play but the smog is so bad, it makes outdoor activities unhealthy. The next portrait in the set would be an image of a college student who has given up his/her car for a bike to get to school every day eliminating their green house gases into the atmosphere. These portraits paired together will initially spark emotions in a viewer giving them a touch of fear but then presenting them with a solution to replace the fear with hope. Each image will be displayed with thoroughly researched statistics about the problem coupled with a list of ways to get involved. Spreading the possibilities of hope will make this image series a powerful call for action. Photographs of people cutting a tree down, juxtaposed with a group of people planting new rows of trees speaks volumes to the importance of our actions and that we do have the ability to create change.
There are so many beautiful faces found on our earth and sadly, the faces of human beings are the only ones paired with the earth's destruction. We have to start facing the fact that we have not been respectful stewards of our planet and that we already have left a negative mark. I want viewers to be inspired to truly want to change the negative image we have as a species after seeing these portraits. Work to become the faces that are trying to preserve and save the earth instead of harming it. This project will focus primarily on the American West but not excluding the possibility of expanding to other areas of the United States. The locations will rely heavily on where my research leads me. I will be traveling to places that are currently facing environmental issues like the problem of increased oil drilling in Moab, Utah or the drought in California. Many U.S citizens do not see how environmental issues affect them but the problem is all around us. I want to shake that idea completely, show how our actions really do affect this planet, this country, and its communities, and all of the inhabitants on this planet. This project will highlight the interconnectedness and fragility of the ecosystems we live within. It will communicate this message in a peaceful effective way and each issue will be researched to allow the best representation. We must face earth by looking in the mirror to face ourselves. The images will be that mirror, that window to show how much we are part of the earth, connected to every aspect. What we do, really does matter.
This body of work will be made into an art show within my community and will also include an online portfolio. I propose to make these images into an educational traveling presentation where it would be taken to local schools and college campuses. These images will create the calling human beings desperately need to take action towards fixing the problems we have created for our planet and everything living upon it. The goal is to inspire others with this work by spreading the awareness that we are the problem but also carry the solution.
I am a 22 year old college student attending Westminster College and currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah.I have an Associates Degree in Fine Arts and am currently working towards my Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Studies. I see myself as a citizen of the world and have dedicated my life to making it a better place. I always strive towards that goal and it tends to seep into every image I produce. The majority of my portfolio includes images that have been created while taking part of international volunteer trips. During these adventures I worked and lived with the community members, becoming entwined with the local culture. I try to connect to my subjects and really get to know issues before I try to portray them. Photography is my passion but putting the camera down to help, listen and understand is a necessary part of the process for me. Most of the time I don't see them as separate things. Photography is my way to peacefully communicate with the world about the beauty, pain, hope, love and calls for action that can be found within, and all around us. The images I have chosen to submit are from my series on the human spirit, showcasing our unique beauty as a species and the connection to each other we find in our youth. An art show was created with these images and raised over $800 to build homes in Cambodia. That is one example of why I continue to pick up my camera. I see the beauty, then I see the pain and I can't turn away from it. I strive to make the world a better place through my work making photography my avenue for creating positive social change.