The photography competition began in 2009 when we set the challenge for people with familial dysautonomia (FD) to tell the story with a single photographic image of how it feels to live with this rare genetic disease. FD affects the development of the nervous system. These children grow up in a world without the ability to sense their bodies. They lack many of the normal processes that we take for granted including the ability to feel pain or temperature, and to control their internal organs.
It is impossible to imagine how it feels to live in a world without sensation. The World Through My Eyes gives people living with familial dysautonomia the chance to tell their story. The only rules of the competition are that participants must have FD and must have taken the picture themselves.
Each year the submissions are taken to an independent panel of artists and art collectors who select winners in different artistic categories and decide the leading prize shot.
2016 Jury Members
Vanina Waizmann, PhD (Chair): Co-Founder and Director of the Artemisa Gallery in New York City, which specializes in Contemporary Latin American Art.
Rafael Bueno: A painter and art collector, who’s abstract paintings have been exhibited in New York, Miami, Paris, Buenos Aires and Uruguay.
Roberto Gil: A designer and Director of Casa Collection, who makes custom furniture in Brooklyn. His designs have been sold at the MoMA, New York.
Marco Avellaneda (Professor of Mathematics, Courant Institute, NYU), Ed Skolnik (Professor of Medicine, NYU), Cassandra Avellaneda (Pyschologist, NYC), and Amanda Peltier (Neurologist, Vanderbilt, TN) & Horacio Kaufmann (Director, Dysautonomia Center)
Night Photography Category Winner: Rebecca Newman – “Coming Home”
Through her surrealist image, Rebecca expresses the feeling of light and movement. Her own reflection juxtaposed with the wing of an airplane and projected against the backdrop of city lights, provide us with an unexpected vantage point.
The association between the lightness of being in the air and the anticipation of coming home, come together in a visual art construct. Her photograph was praised for it’s skillful approach in using light and contrast. The split screen depicts the different ways she sees the world and the world sees her. She’s looking out and holding on, yet drawn to the city lights beneath her. Her image of liberation was selected as winner of the Night Photography Category.
Expressionism Category Winner: Gabrielle Jassie – “Two sides to me”
Gabi’s cleverly composed modernistic image showcases her artistic talent, through her manipulation of a digital self-portrait. She divides her face down the center with a dark-side and a light-side, which the judges likened to Picasso’s blue and pink periods.
The distorted effect has an important meaning. Her expression appears happy, yet we immediately know that there is more behind the smile. The curved line that runs through the center of her image connects you to the challenges she faces, but leaves you feeling that these are hurdles she will overcome as she looks toward a bright future through her optimistic smile.
Lighting Category Winner: Andrew Sigman – “Sunset”
Andrew’s Turner-like shot captures the setting sun, with his lens directed at the moving clouds. The jury praised his ability to depict the texture of the sky, in a bright, vibrant, Rothko-esque orange hue. They thought that his image portrayed a strong sensation of change, with the duality of day passing to night.
His composition reduces the earth to a simple silhouette, allowing the eye to focus on the sensual texture and awe-inspiring beauty within the last moments of the day.
Abstract Impressionism Category Winner: Rachael L. Eisenson – “Spring Forward”
Rachael’s soothing image of warm blossoms expresses her emotions through nature in true abstract impressionist form. Taken from below, with her lens looking up to the sky, her photograph captures the renewal of life, through the spring flowers. It conjures up the feeling that she has been waiting for something.
Her message of promise and hope, tells the story of a budding future and a fresh start.
Street Photography Category Winner: Carrie Baker – “City & Life”
There are multiple ways of interpreting Carrie’s image. Her composition is equally timeless, yet technically advanced through its creative use of color. The contrasts continue, as within the stillness of the image, there is the motion of the anonymous dancing legs.
Her message is a brilliantly subtle portrait of the world through her own eyes. The reference to shuffling along, hints at difficulties walking. The street sign belies the notion that she may feel closed off from certain things within her life on her path to move ahead.
The jury praised Carrie for her manipulation of the urban imagery and fine art technique.
Emoji Award Winner: Alexia de Gunzburg – “In the Pink”
Alexia uses a mix of 2D images in a chromatic composition. The judges liked her heart felt image and praised her multidimensional approach. They thought her use of purple and pink hearts was a reference to love.
Her color palette is both soft and warm, portraying her affectionate nature. Alexia’s photograph features her own artwork, which she produces in Naples, Florida.
Illustrative Art Award Winner: Ravid Mendelevitch- “The Two Brothers”
What is immediately apparent from Ravid’s photograph is the concept of friendship. The judges were also very impressed with her clever use of irony. They likened the “two brothers,” who have different familial traits, as a reference to the importance of genetic variation.
Ravid’s photograph speaks of contrasts. Yet, within the image, despite their differences, you see the dogs looking out for one another. Her simple effective composition has an important public health message of diversity and acceptance. It depicts trust and partnership, which can come in many different dimensions.
Landscape Photography Award Winner: Lisa Gross – “Calm”
Lisa’s photograph speaks of refuge. Her shot captures a happy memory with a landscape that is peaceful and inspirational. Her use of muted tones reminds you that she is outside, looking out to the ocean, and watching the waves softly lap the shoreline.
The diagonal aspect to her composition gives strength to the image. The angle of the grasses growing though the sand tells you of the fight to survive and battle to thrive. The horizon captures her thoughts on the future with the strength to continue moving on in the face of challenges.
Ultimately, her message is said with a calming beach scene. The judges were unanimously impressed with her composition.
Animal Photography Award Winner: Aaron Menzel – “Family Love”
The jury’s first reaction to Aaron’s photograph, taken at the Bronx Zoo, was “this is great.” It is hard not to like the intimate image of trust within a healthy environment. His composition is impeccable, from the jaunty angle of the ground, to the lush green plants.
Look closely and you see the young gorilla gaze off, showing you he is free to learn about the world around him while being safely carried. The photograph captures the need for family support and the intimacy that comes from dependency.
Realism Photography Winner: Chana Perelstein – “Perception”
Chana’s planned composition is a brave portrait of her life. Born without spatial awareness from within the limbs, she relies heavily on touch and sight to guide her movements. Her gesture of reaching towards the door is an exercise in perspective perception.
Notably, Chana captures her left hand, without a ring, which hints at non-traditional realism. From her movement, you see where she wants to go in life. Her connection to the world is laid bravely before us in a colour-coordinated composition.
Overall Winner: Sharon (Chanie) Profesorske – “Sisters”
Chanie’s image of two sisters holding flowers was voted as overall winner of the 2016 competition. The jury thought that her photograph was an image of unity. The sister’s hands are bound together with the earthy bright pink flowers. The image of spontaneity and romanticism connects you with the love they share.
Their gift to one another and touching embrace goes to the very heart of living with an unpredictable rare disease. It shows the need for support to grow and nurture life. As their family roots tie them together they unite to learn from one another and thrive. You feel their closeness and understand the importance of their bond from this single photographic image.
Congratulations to all the photographers who have contributed to the project over the last 8 years. This unique collection of images from very special people is an archive of expression. The competition exhibits the strength and courage of those living with familial dysautonomia and their abilities to use the camera lens to capture their world
2009 Rachael Eisenson
2010 Jackie Goldberg
2011 Jamie Goldblat
2012 Chana Perelstein
2013 Joshua Kietz
2014 Aaron Menzel
2015 Gabrielle Jassie