On the occasion of International Women’s Day, March 8, the camera company Lecia announced the three recipients of its second annual Leica Women Foto Project Award. Matika Wilbur, Karen Zusman, and Anna Boyiazis will each receive $10,000; a high-quality Leica Q2 camera (valued at $4,995); and mentorship to complete their photographic projects.    

The awardees were selected by a panel of judges comprised of nine women who are leading professionals in photography, art, and journalism: Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, Amanda de Cadenet, Laura Roumanos, Sheila Pree Bright, Elizabeth Avedon, Elizabeth Krist, Lynn Johnson, Maggie Steber, and Sandra Stevenson.

Wilbur, a member of Tulalip & Swinomish Pacific Northwest, has produced a visual narrative of tribal sovereignties in the United State in the photographic series Project 562. As part of the project, Wilbur visited over 400 tribal nations in all 50 states by car, RV, plane, train, boat, horseback, and foot. The photographer and social documentarian says the idea for the project came from a dream in which her grandmother asked her to photograph their peoples. Her goal, she said, is to “change the way we see Native America.”

Photo by Matika Wilbur; Hannah Tomeo (Colville, Yakima, Nez Perce, Sioux and Samoan Nations), Northwest Indian Youth Princess

Zusman, a New York-based photographer, won the award for her series The Super Power of Me Project. Zusman’s portrait series grew out of her involvement with a Black Lives Matter bicycle protest group. It depicts children of color in New York City, and, in her words, “Shows who they are before the world tells them otherwise.” The award will support the photographer’s plans to expand the project to an outdoor exhibition and workshops for children in the city.

Photo by Karen Zusman; Elena, age 9, lives in Harlem with her mother and grandmother

Boyiazis, a documentary photographer based between Southern California and East Africa, has been working on her project Finding Freedom in the Water since 2016. The series follows women and girls in Zanzibar who are learning to swim, which she describes as “an act of emancipation in an ultraconservative region where such an act conflicts with patriarchal, religious norms.” The award will allow Boyiazis to return to Zanzibar during the dry season to continue to document her subjects’ daily lives.

Photo by Anna Boyiazis, from the long-term project, Finding Freedom in the Water. Kijini Primary School students learn to float, swim, and perform rescues on October 25, 2016, in the Indian Ocean off of Muyuni, Zanzibar.

In addition to the awards and mentorship, the three winners will be offered opportunities to participate in Leica Gallery exhibitions and Leica Akademie workshops.

Leica will also be holding a virtual summit in April. The summit will be open to the public and will include programming, panels, and opportunities to meet with photographers. Entries for the next iteration of the Leica Women Foto Project Award will open this summer.

Photo by Anna Boyiazis; A young woman learns to float on Nov. 24, 2016 in the Indian Ocean off of Nungwi, Zanzibar
Photo by Anna Boyiazis; Swim instructor Siti, 24, helps a girl float on Nov. 17, 2016 in the Indian Ocean off of Nungwi, Zanzibar
Photo by Karen Zusman; Kris, age 8, lives in Sheepshead Bay with his two brothers, mother and stepfather
Photo by Matika Wilbur; Travis Goldtooth, Buffalo Barbie, Diné

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...