There were plenty of stunning images on the table, but one in particular caught the eye of judges at this year’s teen photo contest at The Polygon Gallery.
Jeffer Ward’s “The Value” won the annual Chester Fields contest, an initiative that encourages the development of young photographers by featuring their work on a professional platform.
Ward chose the dinner table as his subject matter.
“Companionship and food are necessities, and a dinner table provides both,” the Vancouver-based artist explained in a write-up. “The value of gathering around one area can be overlooked and missed. So next time you’re at a table, look again and realize the memories and connections you are making.”
The 2022 Chester Fields theme was “Look Again,” which plays off the idea of the commitment to revisiting a subject over and over. Rather than capturing an image instantly, which is often the case with taking photos, photographers were challenged to choose a subject that they would revisit repeatedly over a period of time.
Works from teens across the Greater Vancouver region were reviewed by a jury of artists and art professionals, who selected works to be shown in both onsite and online exhibitions.
The two runners-up include Sabrina Wu of West Vancouver for her haunting close-up of a photo-edited pupil, entitled “Human Nature.”
“This piece visualizes the horrors of animal exploitation – a chaos disguised as the normalized order of humanity,” Wu said.
“Human Nature” was inspired by her childhood experience of seeing farm animals being abused, she continued, and by revisiting this dilemma she hoped to emphasize humanity’s cowardly relationship with animals.
Jonathan Sterling’s “Letting Go” is the other finalist.
“This piece is something very personal to me because being a dark-skinned individual is something that I have struggled with for as long as I can remember,” he said of his work.
“The picture in the background is me currently, acknowledging my flaws and knowing that growth never stops. I’m looking away and smiling because the picture behind represents my past, and the promise to forgive myself for not loving me.”
An in-person exhibition of the shortlisted artists will be shown at The Polygon in North Vancouver until Sept. 11. An online gallery of more of the submitted works can be viewed online.
Correction: Previously, The Polygon Gallery had incorrectly stated that Sabrina Wu's work took first prize, when Jeffer Ward had in fact won.