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 2018 Annual Emerging Lens Mentorship program. The 2018 competition is open to photographers based anywhere in the world working on human rights and social justice issue affecting women and/or girls. The winning entrant will receive a stipend to expand and/or finish a project already in production. The final project will be exhibited in May 2018 at the ART WORKS Projects Studio Gallery in Chicago.

2018 Jury Members include:
Natasha Egan, Isadora Kosofsky, Catherine Edelman, additional jurors TBD 

As part of the Emerging Lens program, the winning photographer will receive mentoring and guidance from 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. Now in its fourth year, AWP is accepting entries that focus on issues affecting women and/or girls from photographers based anywhere in the world.

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 photojournalists to use the power of their lenses to address human rights and social justice issues.

This opportunity is open to all photographers age 18 to 27 years old (students, professionals, and others) based anywhere in the world. The closing submission date is December 31, 2017 MIDNIGHT CST.

The selected winner will receive:

  • An exhibition of their work in May 2018 at the AWP Chicago Studio Gallery.

  • Mentorship from the AWP team and 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: While winners may be based anywhere in the world, the winner is expected to be part of the printing, installation, and opening process in Chicago if possible.

The winner will be selected based on three criteria:

  • Quality of photography and written essay submission

  • Deep knowledge and curiosity about the selected human rights and/or social justice topic

  • References that can indicate the entrant's commitment to documentary photography

The Open Call requires submission of a project proposal and portfolio of an ongoing photography project, each equally weighted. Entrants must also provide contact information (email and phone number) from two professional colleagues, advisors, teachers, employers, or mentors. At least one reference must be able to speak to your experience as a photographer. References do not need be photography instructors or photo editors.

AWP expects to announce the selected winner in January or February 2018. The exhibition will open May 2018.


Questions? Please contact Annalise Taylor at