Document Your Environment Contest Winners!

Back in November, the National Archives, with the help of the Environmental Protection Agency, launched a new contest that asked students to create something inspired by one of our Documerica photos.  This contest, Document Your Environment, brought in so many creative interpretations of the original 1970s photos!  From videos to paintings and Photoshop creations to graphic poems,  the entries we reviewed were amazing!  We received over 60 complete entries, with one coming from as far away as India!  Our three judges were equally  impressed with the entries.  Congratulations to all of the finalists and to our Grand Prize winner!

Judge Michael Philip Manheim, one of the original Documerica photographers, evaluated artwork in the Graphic Art category.

The first finalist in the Graphic Art category is Anna Lee, selected from the 18+ students group.  Anna’s piece, titled iRevolution, was chosen by Michael as “his favorite of all, contemporary and inclusive, executed in a striking format that dramatically compels attention.”

"We are taught that we matter and our opinions matter. In recent times, people in this society have been speaking out about injustices that they see and that they want changed. The method of promoting this movement has taken advantage of the availability of technology that we have today. We carry cell phones with us at all times that connect us to the interwoven Internet that allows us to be connected with friends and strangers alike. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have become the norm of how information gets shared and distributed to the masses. We live in a world where people really do speak their minds and we are shown that we, the people, can make a difference."

Anna was inspired by a Documerica photo by Jim Olive.

Children in Fort Smith Are Learning That Protecting the Environment Will Take More Than Awareness 06/1972

Diane Gress was chosen as the finalist for the Graphic Art age 16-18 category for her artwork titled, “Some things haven’t changed.”

"For this entry I used the pictures that I took when making my video.The idea is the same in both; that it is important that some things in our environment be left alone so that they may influence future generations."

Michael chose this entry because he “liked the concept of retaining what is important, emphasized by mirroring the original photograph.”  The original Documerica photo by Frank Aleksandrowicz is titled “Corn and Pumpkins on Farmland Near the Cuyahoga River…09/1975.”

Finally, Michael chose Ishani Ghose as the  13-15 year old finalist for her artwork titled “Save Honey Bees” because of its strong message.

"The honey bees on which we depend upon for 'honey, fruits and flowers' are disappearing at a fast rate. Our attention is focused on the larger wild cats and animals and these bees have been neglected. It is time we put our hands together to save the honey bees."

Ishani chose this photo by Marc St. Gil as her inspiration:

Milk Wort and Butterfly in the Texas Countryside, near San Antonio, 06/1973

The next category, Poetry, was judged by Sandra Alcosser, the first Poet Laureate of Montana and professor of poetry at San Diego State University.  Here are Sandra’s selections as finalists in each of the age categories:

The first Poetry finalist is Marianne Johnson  Her poem, “Scratches in the Sand” was chosen in the 18+ student category.

"Poem entitled 'Scratches in the Sand' with Lizard photograph"

Marianne’s poem drew inspiration from Dave Hiser’s photo of a lizard:

Lizard, 05/1972

The 16-18 year old finalist in the Poetry category is Juliet Borchardt for her poem, “Not Always So.

"This poem is about the urbanization of nature inspired by a picture of the Chattahoochee River."

Juliet’s poem was inspired by Chuck Rogers’ Documerica photo, “Chattahoochee River, Atlanta 05/1972.”

Chattahoochee River, Atlanta 05/1972

The final Poetry finalist is Shannon Strong in the age 13-15 category.  Shannon Strong for her poem called “TIME.”

"This poem describes the beauty of the quiet meadow in the picture I selected. It talks about the oddity of such a place in the modern world and near the end, questions its longevity."

Shannon was inspired by a Documerica photo by Belinda Rain:

Meadow, 05/1972.

Judge Sandra reflected on the three finalists; “We draw close to places where life thrives.  Each of the three poets selected (“Time,” “Not Always So,” and “Scratches in the Sand”) celebrates a presence worthy of protection.  As Nobel prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda once wrote: When earth blooms, the people breathe freedom, the poets sing and show the way.  We honor their voices and their hope for our shared planet.”

The last category, Video, was judged by Cokie Roberts, author and news analyst for National Public Radio and ABC News.  In this category, only one entry was selected as a finalist, and that distinction goes to Desiree Touchet for her video in the 16-18 age category.

Desiree’s video, The beauty of My Backyard, contains photos that she took herself, and drew inspiration from Marc St. Gil’s popular Milk Wort and Butterfly photo.  Cokie chose Desiree’s video because “The student took a simple photograph of a moth lighting on a thistle and turned it into a series of scenes showing the beauties of untouched nature.  She clearly spent time and effort on the photography; some of the shots are very well composed and some are truly clever.  I especially like the horse nosing the cat in almost a parody of the moth and the thistle. Including that photograph at the end of the video is also effective.”

Of these finalists, one Grand Prize Winner was chosen by the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, as the recipient of $500, courtesy of the Foundation for the National Archives.  The Archivist chose iRevolution as the winner because Anna’s “perspective prompted me to reflect on the relationship between technology and citizens of today’s world, activism and revolution, and the role of communication, documentary evidence, and the historical record. ”

If you are interested in environmental photos, we would love for you to participate in the EPA’s crowdsourced Documerica inspired project, State of the Environment.  Check out some of their challenges on Flickr or see some of the great photos that people have already submitted.  And congratulations once again to all of these finalists for their hard work and inspiring interpretation of the contest!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *