2015 Julia Harper Day Award Winner: Lauren Henschel

Lauren Henschel. Tintype photograph by Harlan Campbell.

Lauren Henschel. Tintype photograph by Harlan Campbell.

The Julia Harper Day Award was created by the Center for Documentary Studies in 1992 in memory of the young woman who was the CDS’s first staff member, a writer and photographer of real accomplishment. This $500 award goes to a graduating Duke University senior who has demonstrated excellence in documentary studies and contributed significantly to CDS programs. This year’s Julia Harper Day Award goes to Miami, Florida, native Lauren Henschel, a visual and media studies major with a minor in cultural anthropology and a CDS Certificate in Documentary Studies.

Christopher Sims, CDS undergraduate education director, writes:

“Lauren’s current body of work and Graduation with Distinction project is entitled Indelible. It has been displayed at Carnegie Hall, the Miami Art Museum, and has been published in Duke Magazine, Latent Image, and Duke FORM. Indelible is an art installation piece combining still images, audio narratives, and video footage presenting anonymous stories of individuals with scars and the manifestation of pain on the human body. Lauren’s own experience with psoriatic arthritis, a debilitating genetic autoimmune disease, inspired her to create Indelible, in which she has used art to turn her soul outward. Her cathartic exploration of pain takes place through the lens of her camera. Lauren’s intention is to create a platform through which individuals can explore the intersection between pain and empathy, allowing them to take a deeper look at how they view the pain of others and how they process their own. You can watch Indelible in its entirety below.

In addition to her success in the documentary field, Lauren is one of the founding members and co-editor-in-chief of The Bite, Duke’s premiere food publication. Lauren has also worked with the National Psoriasis Foundation to raise millions of dollars for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, and created her own nonprofit to help children come to terms with their illness.

Elena Rue, a CDS instructor who nominated Lauren for the award, writes, ‘I was lucky enough to have Lauren in class during the first semester of her first year at Duke and it has been a privilege to watch her grow as a person and as a documentarian. Lauren not only has the skills and drive to create great work, but she has a unique ability to make strong and lasting connections with the subjects she works with. She has enormous potential and gives herself fully to every opportunity she enters into. I look forward to following her career for many years to come.’

Lauren’s next project is Las Fronteras (working title)—a film that traces the unexpected paths of two families as they became one.

We’re thrilled that Lauren is this year’s recipient of the Julia Harper Day Award and wish her continued success.”

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