Student Project Award Winner: Maddie McGarvey

    On Thursday, June 9, 2011, we had the pleasure of hosting a live judging of our 2011 Student Project Award that was open to the public at The Bridge Public Arts Initiative in Charlottesville, Virginia. Lead Judge Michael Wichita of the AARP Bulletin led a panel of Gillian Laub (Photographer), Larissa Leclair (Indie Photobook Library) and Molly Roberts (Smithsonian) through the difficult task of selecting one winner from our ten talented finalists. We are very fortunate that one of our finalists, Maddie McGarvey was secretly in the small audience, and when she was selected as the winner it was a very sweet moment. Maddie selected LUCEO photographer Kendrick Brinson (Atlanta) as her mentor. 

    Collin Avery, Montana State University, USA

    Chloe Borkett, University of Wales, Newport, UK

    Ty Cacek, Western Kentucky University, USA

    Giulia Bianchi, International Center for Photography, USA

    Jared Iorio, Pierce College, USA

    David Kasnic, Western Kentucky University, USA

    Maddie McGarvey, Ohio University, USA

    Anastasia Rudenko, Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography and Multimedia, Russia

    Daria Tuminas, Leiden University, Netherlands

    Alena Zhandarova, IED Madrid, Russia

    Michael Wichita selected Daria Tuminas for the Runner-Up. She will be awarded an assignment from AARP Bulletin. 

    David Bram of Fraction Magazine selected Chloe Borkett for publication in an upcoming issue of Fraction. All of the finalists will be listed in the “Collaboration” tab of Fraction Magazine as well. 

    Below is a selection from Maddie’s winning portfolio. Scroll down to read her proposal. 

    A Generation Lost by Maddie McGarvey

    A two-year-old boy with wild blond hair screams in the middle of a parking lot when his mother tries to pick him up.

      “No I wanna stay with grandma and sissy! Please don’t make me go with you!” he screams with tears running down his face.  His two sisters with matching blonde hair cry and beg their mother to let him stay. His grandmother watches from a few feet away and knows she can’t do much about it. She has custody of two of her daughter’s children but not the youngest boy.

    According to the United States Census, there were 6.6 million children living with a grandparent in 2008.  482,000 of these grandparents have incomes below the poverty line. Lorrie and Lee Casto are part of that statistic. They are raising their daughter Amber’s three children, Sonya, Paige, and Seth.  Sonya is 9-years-old, Paige is 4 and Seth is 2.

    Sonya, Lorrie’s oldest granddaughter, suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after her mother’s boyfriend beat and emotionally abused her for years. “He beat her so hard one day that his class ring was stamped into her face for a week,” Lorrie said. “I knew I had to get those kids away from her.”

                      Lorrie is currently working on taking her daughter to court to get custody of her youngest grandson, Seth. Amber doesn’t want to let Seth go and often takes him away from his sisters and grandparents for weeks at a time. He comes back to Lorrie filthy but ecstatic to be back with his grandparents and sisters, where he knows he will be taken care of and safe.

    While this is an enormous amount to deal with while approaching old age, Lorrie wouldn’t change a thing.

    “I would do it again for the kids to make sure they are safe,” Lorrie says. “They mean the world to me.”

    This reality of grandparents raising their grandchildren is an increasing trend in America. With more parents being involved with drugs, going to prison, and being unfit to raise their children, grandparents are left to look after the kids.

                      This is an important issue to document because many grandparents have to sacrifice their golden years, medication, and life savings to be parents again. With almost no funding offered, many grandparents have to go back to work at minimum wage jobs to support their families.

                      Carol Joy is another one of these grandparents. She lived alone after raising six children, only to find her house full again.  After her daughter Shelly and her son Robert lost their homes, their families moved back into her house that is literally sinking into the ground.

                      Carol is left to look after the children who range from 2 to 14 years old while their parents are gone. She now sleeps on a couch in the living room so the rest of her family can have a room and beds. “It’s really hard. I never thought I’d be raising children again, I thought I was done,” Carol said. “But when they are with me in my house, I know they are safe.”

                      Funding from the LUCEO Student Project Award would allow me to continue documenting kinship care across Ohio. The funds would be allocated towards mileage to and from shoots with local families, and would enable to me spend a few long weekends photographing an African-American family I have been in touch with in Cincinnati, Ohio, a 350 mile round trip. Remaining funds will be allocated towards digital backup and any incidental meals/motel rooms necessary while I work on this project. Also, mentorship from a LUCEO member would be incredibly beneficial to the growth of this project.