Abir Abdullah, Sara Naomi Lewkowicz Win 2013 Alexia Foundation Grants

Mar 1, 2013
Abdullah's photographs (at top) document  the continuous threat fire presents to the working class communities of Dhaka's slums, factories, and malls. Lewkowicz's essay (lower) deals with the story of domestic violence and its victims.
Abdullah's photographs (at top) document the continuous threat fire presents to the working class communities of Dhaka's slums, factories, and malls. Lewkowicz's essay (lower) deals with the story of domestic violence and its victims.

SYRACUSE, NY (March 1, 2013) – The professional and student winners of the Alexia Foundation grants were announced today.

Abir Abdullah of the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute in Bangladesh is the professional winner, and Sara Naomi Lewkowicz of Ohio University's School of Visual Communication is the student winner. 

The Alexia Foundation was established by the family of Alexia Tsairis, an honors photojournalism student at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University who was a victim of the terrorist bombing of Pan Am flight #103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988. She was returning home for the Christmas holidays after spending a semester at the Syracuse University London Centre.

Alexia, known as a promising photojournalism student, had interned for the Associated Press in New York City and she was deeply committed to world peace, supporting the efforts of Amnesty International and Greenpeace. The annual photography grants to professionals and students are "dedicated to helping photographers produce pictures that promote world peace and cultural understanding."

Abdullah shoots for the European Pressphoto Agency in Bangladesh and his photographs documenting the continuous threat fire presents to the working class communities of Dhaka's slums, factories, and malls won the $15,000 USD professional grant.

Runners-up in the professional grant category were Christian Werner of Germany; Robin Hammond of Paris; Noriko Hayashi of Tokyo; Alvaro Ybarra Zavala of Spain; and Jenn Ackerman of Minneapolis, MN.

Lewkowicz's essay, "Shane and Maggie," which garnered a lot of media attention in the past week after being published online in a TIME magazine LightBox feature, documented a couple's struggle with domestic abuse and its short-term and long-term effects on the victims and the families involved. Lewkowicz was awarded the full-tuition scholarship to study photojournalism at the Syracuse University London Centre in the Fall plus a $1,000 USD grant to produce the story. The award also comes with a $300 USD gift card from Dury's Photo.

Lewkowicz is a graduate of the journalism program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is graduate student at OU's VisCom program. She's been a participant in the WKU Mountain Workshops and the Eddie Adams Barnstorm Workshop.

The second place student winner is Dijana Muminovic, also a graduate student at OU's VisCom, for a proposal to document genocide and the aftermath of war in the Lake Perucac region bordering Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Muminovic receives a half-tuition scholarship to the London program and a $500 USD grant to produce her story.

Award of Excellence student winners are Souvid Datta from University College London; Annie Flanagan from Syracuse University; and Andrew Renneisen of Syracuse. These winners receive a $1,500 USD scholarship and a $500 cash grant to help produce their stories.

The 2013 Alexia Foundation Grant judging took place at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University on February 23. The judges were photojournalist Lynn Johnson, Getty photojournalist John Moore, and Jim Dooley, the former Newsday director of photography and current executive administrator of the Alexia Foundation.

Their winning photographs and more details are on the Alexia Foundation Web site here.