Photographer/Writer Jen Kinney Wins 2013 Lange-Taylor Prize

"Dismantling the Ushagat," Photograph by Jen Kinney

“Dismantling the Ushagat.” Photograph by Jen Kinney.

The Center for Documentary Studies has awarded the twenty-first Lange–Taylor Prize to American photographer and writer Jen Kinney for “City Under One Roof,” her ongoing project in Whittier, Alaska. Whittier is a tiny town on Alaska’s Prince William Sound that is only accessible by land through the longest rail and highway tunnel in North America, where ninety percent of its just-over-two-hundred residents live in one fourteen-story building. The $10,000 award is given to encourage documentary work in the tradition of acclaimed photographer Dorothea Lange and writer and social scientist Paul Taylor, and supports documentary artists—working alone or in teams—whose extended fieldwork projects rely on the interplay of words and images.

View a slideshow of some of Kinney’s images below.

Kinney graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in photography and imaging in 2012 and is now in Whittier to continue work on “City Under One Roof.” The project will explore shared spaces and investigate “how the structures that people inhabit shape and order their lives; how, in turn, people construct, alter, and destroy spaces; and how these constant renovations to our physical world mirror changes in the stories that we tell ourselves, and how we structure our lives to these stories.” Her images—both environmental portraits and portraits of individuals—provide “the texture of the town, the stage upon which its folklore is set. . . . ” Research on the town’s history, her own writing, and audio interviews will help describe that folklore. “Text is essential. . . . The stories will be told in a combination of my voice and the voices of those I interview. In all likelihood the stories will conflict with one another, and with the town’s official history, and I want to welcome and celebrate those varying accounts.”

Kinney’s project, which she plans to publish as a book, will weave together her photographs, edited oral histories, historical essays, and archival photographs. She is also writing a blog and producing short radio pieces. In addition to the prize money, Kinney will receive a solo exhibition at the Center for Documentary Studies and inclusion in the Archive of Documentary Arts at Rubenstein Library, Duke University.

The members of the Lange-Taylor Prize Committee also awarded a “special recognition” to Bianca Giaever, a 2013 graduate of Middlebury College, for her innovative approach to using images and words to tell personal, philosophical stories. Her video “Holy Cow Lisa,” which she submitted as part of her proposal, can be seen on Vimeo.

Guidelines for the 2014 Lange-Taylor Prize are now available; see How to Enter and FAQ’sThe winner of the 2014 prize will be publicly announced in September 2014; the winner’s solo exhibition will be on view at CDS in 2015.

The American Society of Media Photographers is sustaining sponsor of the Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize.

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