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 multimedia stories of social justice and human rights abuses can make a difference. ART WORKS is committed to sharing our methodology with emerging photographers and celebrating their work. 

The Open Call:

The impact of pollution, climate change, and environmental disasters has taken an undeniable toll on the well-being of communities around the world. In 2022, The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center in Geneva, Switzerland, estimated that 32.6 million people have been displaced or migrated due to climate and environmental disasters, the highest figure in a decade and 41% higher than the yearly average. Additionally environmental disasters and climate-related factors have had a greater impact on women, marginalized communities, and indigenous populations. In July 2022, the UN General Assembly adopted a historic resolution declaring access to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment to be a universal human right and encouraged the global community to bolster their commitment to addressing environmental concerns.  

Since 2006, ART WORKS Projects has explored the relationship between human rights and the environment in several projects in the past, including Body of Water and Horn of Africa, which highlighted both the global and regional repercussions of environmental emergencies; from land degradation, famine, water scarcity, unsanitary living conditions, to economic fallout. However, these environmental threats are also local, as 2020-21 Emerging Lens Fellow Brittany Greeson presented in A City in Limbo, which documented water contamination and the public health crisis in Flint, Michigan revealing the deep linkages between environmental injustice and systemic racism.

Environmental and climate-based issues have also seen greater recognition in photojournalism at large, as photographers tackle the impacts of these emergencies within their local communities. Delhi-based photographer Smita Sharma’s investigation into regional crop burning has led to increased discussion about the relationship between cultural practices and the environment, while photographer Loren Holmes’ documentation of the socioeconomic impacts of warming temperatures in the Bering Sea has gained the attention of the United States Congress. Both photographers are now finalists for Covering Climate Now’s 2023 Journalism Awards.

While many have already taken the urgent call to action to fight climate change, pollution, and reduction of environmental resources, we invite emerging and early-career photographers to submit project proposals that build awareness for underrepresented communities and stories addressing climate change, pollution and environmental justice. 

Emerging Lens fellows receive: 

  • $5,000 unrestricted fellowship to complete an ongoing or new body of work;
  • Mentorship and career development from AWP staff, AWP partners, and the Emerging Lens community; 
  • Opportunity to apply for partial to full financial support for realization of project, including expenses related to field work, equipment rental, travel, etc;
  • A capstone presentation of work with exhibition and programming opportunities and the possibility of exhibition travel;
  • Facilitation of additional activation of work and distribution opportunities.

Who can apply?

  • The Emerging Lens Fellowship is open to all early career photographers, regardless of geographic location, age, or English proficiency. 
  • ART WORKS Projects is committed to inclusivity which extends to and beyond diversity in race, ethnicity, gender, culture, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education level, and disability. 
  • Preference will be given to photographers and stories that present underrepresented narratives within photojournalism. 

The submission process: 

  • Interested applicants should submit a well-developed project proposal for and photography portfolio via Submittable. Projects can be for the support of a new body of work, existing, or ongoing work, and has not yet been published or exhibited. 
  • Call for submissions open: September 13, 2023
  • Submission deadline: October 15, 2023 

To note: 

All copyrights remain with the fellow and AWP receives first right to publish the work. Afterwards, the fellow is encouraged to place the piece with a media outlet of their choosing.

Competitive applicants are new to the field of photography and would benefit personally and professionally from a mentorship with ART WORKS Projects. Their work addresses social justice and/or human rights in a manner that is thoughtful, ethical, and community-centered. The submitted project proposal is a well-developed idea or currently in-progress, and the addressed issue is relevant, timely, and applicable to AWP’s mission.

ART WORKS Projects is an equal opportunity employer and complies with all EOE and ADA requirements. We are committed to supporting diverse collaborators, and we have a strong organizational commitment to racial justice and equity. People of color, gender non-conforming people, people with disabilities, and low-income people are encouraged to apply. Please let us know if we can help make the application process more accessible for you.

Questions? Please contact us with "Emerging Lens 2023-24" in the subject line:

ART WORKS Projects