Award-winning photographer Sarah Blesener show us how photography can provide essential context and start powerful conversations about important issues, using her Toy Soldiers project, which deals with concepts of "patriotism" and "nationalism" in Russia and United States, to illustrate her point. As she says, "the benefit of having a visual documentation is a direct link and contract... it should be like a mirror... a critique of our own lives."
This interview was conducted by PhotoWings in partnership with The Alexia Foundation
Sarah Blesener is a documentary photographer based in New York City. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, she studied Linguistics and Youth Development at North Central University. While in University, she worked as a photographer for the organization Healing Haiti based in Port au Prince, Haiti, covering events surrounding the 2010 earthquake. Upon graduation in 2012, she studied at Bookvar Russian Academy in Minneapolis, concentrating on the Russian language. She is a recent graduate of the Visual Journalism and Documentary Practice program at the International Center of Photography in New York. Her latest work revolves around issues of youth movements and culture in Russia, Eastern Europe, and the United States. In 2017, she was awarded the prestigious CatchLight Fellowship for her project Toy Soldiers, about rising nationalism among youth in the U.S. and Russia, for which she was also awarded The Alexia Foundation 2017 grant.