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THIRD PRIZE WINNER
Upon arriving from Germany, I was shocked to find the America of my imagination, a place where everyone is well-educated and privileged, to be instead a place with a great deal of poverty and despair. Building on my long-term interest in social documentary, I set out to find subjects that allowed me to reflect on these issues.
The series Jennifer's Family focuses on Jennifer, a second-generation Puerto Rican woman, her Native American life partner, and their four children, who live in South Providence, Rhode Island. It is an urban neighborhood with a large Hispanic population, where many families live below the poverty line. Unemployment is rampant and foreclosure rates are among the highest in the United States.
My photographs and video represent intimate moments in the everyday lives of Jennifer's family. They illustrate how a 25 year-old mother, in spite of difficult living conditions, poverty, desolation, and illness, manages to maintain an optimistic disposition while thoroughly caring for her children. Though on the margins of capitalist prosperity, she lives in pursuit of her American Dream, hosting birthday parties and maintaining hope that one day she will own a home and achieve a better, and happier life.
With my work I intend that viewers will become engaged in what they see, questioning their stereotypes about poverty and disadvantaged families. As viewers discover the human side in this family, my hope is that they will finally internalize that investing in the poor is good for society as a whole, not just for the poor.
— Louisa Marie Summer
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