Deondra Scott’s Neighborhood

Here is a set of pictures by Deondra Scott, who was recently named a 2009 National Portfolio Gold Medal recipient by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Brought to our attention from the great new NYTimes photoblog Lens and (and to me directly from) the mention of Pete Brook of Prison Photography blog who said this on twitter: “Deondra Scott is the answer to Stephen Mayes’ call for more photography of true Black culture. Great Portraits.” He is referring first to former World Press Photo Secretary Stephen Mayes’ call to attention for photojournalism which among other things says that “black culture and expanded vision of black life outside Africa” is underrepresented in our work (or, at least, what is submitted to WPP).
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I won’t go so far as to place this wonderful set of pictures by a highschooler in the hot seat of saving photojournalism in that way, but they are definitely filling a visual void (for me at least) in modern ‘daily life’. (Only thing close I can think of is South Side by Jon Lowenstein).

As James Estrin says at Lens:

Deondra Scott, a shy, even timid, 18-year-old from Montgomery, Ala., photographs the people closest to her. While it’s easy to get her neighbors to relax around her, there’s another reason Ms. Scott chooses to document her poor, African-American neighborhood. She does not want to forget.

“I want to get out of here, but I want to remember where I came from, too,” she said.

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I think the pictures are really wonderful, ever more so that Scott is only in high school. I first started taking pictures seriously at that time too… and I remember those days fondly. But my (and my peers’) photos/art were pretty empty, though we were learning (I wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for those days). Thus it is so impressive that these pictures really say something, where our highschool work was very rarely approaching any sort of statement or voice. My deep compliments to her, and congratulations on this award. I hope you continue to work in pictures and I look forward to seeing many more. These are thoughtful, powerful images that I am glad are getting some attention.

2 Responses to “Deondra Scott’s Neighborhood”

  1. Davin Ellicson

    Blast from the past! I won a National Gold Medal at the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards back in 1994 when I was 16. It was great! There was a real art world opening at The Corcoran Gallery of Art where my image was exhibited.

  2. John Glenn

    Good luck to Deondra; the ever changing black community is a subject worthy of being documented.

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