ART WORKS Projects' mission is to use design and the arts to raise awareness of and educate the public about significant human rights issues.

Our organization was founded with the belief that thoughtful multi-media stories of social justice and human rights abuses can make a difference. ART WORKS is committed to sharing our methodology with the next generation of documentary photographers and celebrating their work. 

ART WORKS Projects (AWP) is pleased to announce its Open Call for the 2020 Annual Emerging Lens Mentorship program. The 2020 competition is open to young photographers currently working on a human rights, social justice or humanitarian issue. Although the entrant must be a resident of the United States, the project may focus on international issues. The winning entrant will have an opportunity to receive a stipend to expand and/or finish their project and to exhibit the final project in 2020 at the ART WORKS Projects Studio Gallery in Chicago.*

2020 Emerging Lens Jury 

Megan Farmer
Emily Jan
Dalina Perdomo-Alvarez
Steven Rubin
Jennifer Samuel

As part of the Emerging Lens program, the winning photographer will have an opportunity to receive mentoring and guidance from select members of the Emerging Lens jury and the AWP team.*    

Emerging Lens is AWP’s annual, juried photography competition for photographers age 18 to 27 whose work focuses on social justice and human rights. Supporting upcoming documentary photographers and filmmakers through mentoring and providing a platform for their work is an integral part of AWP’s mission. Through the Emerging Lens program, AWP hopes to encourage the rising generation of photographers and photojournalists to use the power of their lenses to address human rights and social justice issues.

This opportunity is open to all photographers (students, professionals, and others) who are age 18 to 27 years old as of the date of entry and who are residents of  the United States. The closing submission date is March 15, 2020 11:59pm CST.

In addition to being designated the official winner of the competition, the selected winner will have an opportunity to receive:

  • An exhibition of their work in 2020 at the AWP Chicago Studio Gallery.
  • Mentorship from the AWP team and select members of the Emerging Lens jury.
  • A $2,000 stipend, which can be used at the winner’s discretion to finish the work.
  • Travel to Chicago for the opening launch and a speaking event.

Please note: If the winner agrees to an exhibition of the final project, the winner is expected to be part of the exhibition printing, installation, and opening process in Chicago.


The winner will be selected based on a number of criteria, including:

  • Quality of photography and written proposal submission
  • Deep knowledge and curiosity about the selected topic
  • References that can indicate the entrant's experience with and commitment to photography and social justice

 Please see the Official Rules for complete information regarding judging criteria and weighting.

The Open Call requires submission of a project proposal and portfolio of an ongoing photography project. Entrants must also provide additional information, including contact information for two references, who may be professional colleagues, advisors, teachers, employers, or mentors. References do not need be photography instructors or photo editors, but should be able to speak to your experience as a photographer, your commitment to photography and/or your commitment to human rights and social justice work.

AWP expects to announce the selected winner March 2020. The exhibition will open in 2020.
*See the Official Rules for complete contest rules, including information on eligibility, entries, judging, prizes and the opportunity for mentoring, a stipend and an exhibition.  


Questions? Please contact Annalise Taylor at


ART WORKS Projects