Photographer Keisha Scarville wins the inaugural 2024 Saltzman Prize

The prestigious new Saltzman Prize, an annual award which recognises the Emerging Photographer of the Year, has gone to Keisha Scarville for her striking images that reflect themes of belonging and place.

American photographer Keisha Scarville has today been awarded the coveted new Saltzman Prize, an arts award presented in cooperation with the Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) and PHOTOFAIRS New York.

Keisha's work was recognised for reflecting the symbolism of Caribbean and African diasporic figures and the immigrant experience of her Guyanese-American parents. Notable examples include her important series Mama's Clothes, in which she created portraits using her deceased mother's clothing.

The prize, which pays tribute to art patrons and designers Ralph and Muriel Saltzman, sees Keisha receive a $10,000 award and additional funds to support a solo exhibition of her work at the Javits Center on September 6–8, 2024.

"It is a wonderful honour to be awarded the inaugural Saltzman Prize," said Keisha. "Photography has been my obsession from the first time I stepped into a darkroom. It has brought me solace and entangled me at the same time. I feel the utmost gratitude to be the recipient of an award that advances and fosters the path for future image makers."

The Saltzman Award is the latest accolade for Keisha, who was recently shortlisted for the Aperture/Paris Photo First PhotoBook Award for her book lick of tongue, rub of finger, on soft wound. This title reflects on her artistic journey and her family history via materials such as stone, water, skin and fabric.

All of these materials and other textures tie back into how the land acts as "a platform for movement; a movement that one must take to begin a journey and re-emerge." Keisha's parents undertook such journeys while immigrating from Guyana, and she herself took many trips back and forth from the United States to Guyana.

Keisha is currently an adjunct faculty member at the International Center of Photography and Parsons School of Design in New York. Her work has previously been exhibited at the Studio Museum of Harlem, the Huxley-Parlour Gallery in London, and ICA Philadelphia. She has also participated in artist residencies at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, Vermont Studio Center, Lightwork, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program, plus many more.

"Our nominators and jurors for the Saltzman Prize were nothing short of impressive, and their selection of Keisha Scarville as the inaugural recipient of the Prize is a monumental acknowledgement of her sheer talent and artistic ambition," said Lisa Saltzman, Founder of the Saltzman Family Foundation and the Saltzman Prize.

"I am beyond proud to present Scarville with this prize, which I hope will accelerate her photography career and enable her to receive further recognition for her talents."

The judges for this year's Saltzman Prize settled on a winner after each selecting two emerging artists to present as nominees. These nominators included MoMA curator Oluremi Onabanjo, British curator and cultural historian Mark Sealy, New York-based curator and writer Lyle Rexer, legendary American photographer Deana Lawson, and New York Times Opinion photo director Jacqueline Bates.

Keisha herself was then selected by a jury of three photography luminaries, including MacArthur fellow and photographer Deborah Willis, the President of the Magnum Foundation Susan Meiselas, and the Director of Asia Society Yasufumi Nakamori.

"We are delighted that our distinguished jury has selected Keisha Scarville as the recipient of the 2024 Saltzman Prize," said Brian Wallis, CPW Executive Director. "Scarville was a participant in our Woodstock AIR residency in 2003, so her selection here, for the extraordinary work she has produced since then, is especially gratifying for all of us at CPW.

"We congratulate Keisha, and we thank CPW Trustee Lisa Saltzman for her generosity and foresight in acknowledging emerging photographers."


Get the best of Creative Boom delivered to your inbox weekly