PRESS RELEASES   ·  March 8, 2011

Fazal Sheikh Awarded Sixth Lou Stoumen Prize in Photography

The Museum of Photographic Arts awarded Sheikh $20,000 international prize for his body of work focusing on humanitarian photography


SAN DIEGO – The Museum of Photographic Arts announced Fazal Sheikh as the recipient of the sixth Lou Stoumen Prize in Photography, a prestigious international award that highlights a mid-career photographer whose work deals broadly with the concepts of humanity.

Accomplished writer, photographer and filmmaker, Louis C. Stoumen (American, 1917-1991) established the endowed gift with MOPA when the museum received his archive in 1991. MOPA invited international nominators in 2015 to choose a contemporary photographer whose work relates in spirit to Stoumen’s humanistic style as he expressed when the prize was established:

“My general sense now is that the grantees should be chosen not for the novelty, technical innovation or fame of their work,” Stoumen said. “They should be photographers whose work is distinguished by heart, enterprise, compassion, sustained productivity, and an awed over-riding sense of the community of life forms on this fragile earth – all of that realized in beautiful memorable photographic prints.”

Nominated by Malcolm Daniel from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Sheikh was selected as the prizewinner for his portrait work with people from around the world living in displaced and marginalized communities.

“Fazal is brilliant, he’s one of the best and most talented photographers working today,” MOPA Executive Director Deborah Klochko said. “He combines a direct approach while capturing the profound emotions and dignity of people in marginalized situations and communities. His work transcends traditional documentary, creating a new way of engaging with his subjects.”

Born in New York City, Sheikh graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in 1987. Since then, he has documented the lives of individuals in East Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Brazil, Cuba, India and Israel/Palestine as a photographer. His primary medium is portraiture, which also includes personal narratives, archival material and text. Sheikh works closely with human rights organizations and aims “to contribute to a wider understanding of these groups, to respect them as individuals and to counter the ignorance and prejudice that often attaches to them,” according to his biography.

Of particular note is his project Independence | Nakba part of The Erasure Trilogy. This series of portraits represents Palestinians and Israelis born each year during the 65 years since the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. The project traces the generations back from 2013 to that pivotal year known as the Nakba (“Catastrophe”) by Palestinians and the War of Independence by Israelis.

The Lou Stoumen Prize includes a monetary award of $20,000, an award ceremony and the addition of a selection of photographs from Sheikh’s work to MOPA’s permanent collection. The award ceremony to honor Sheikh will be held Sept. 15 -16, 2016, at MOPA. Further information about the ceremony will be announced at a later date.

The 2016 Lou Stoumen Prize nominators included:
• Andy Grundberg, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design
• Claire Carter, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
• Heather Snider, SF Camerawork
• Itala Schmelz, Centro de la imagen
• Julia Durkin, Auckland Festival of Photography
• Julian Stallabrass, Courtauld Institute of Art
• Junko Ogawa, Magnum Photos Tokyo
• Kathy Ryan, The New York Times Magazine
• Malcolm Daniel, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
• Michiko Kasahara, temporary office, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
• Natasha Egan, Museum of Contemporary Photography
• Nelson Ramirez de Arellano, Fototeca de Cuba
• Nissan Perez, Shpilman Institute for Photography
• Paul Roth, Ryerson Image Centre
• Sam Barzilay, United Photo Industries
• Yuko Yamaji, Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts

Previous recipients of the Lou Stoumen Prize were Debbie Fleming Caffery (1996), Kenro Izu (1999), James Nachtwey (2002), Gary Schneider (2006) and Mikhael Subotzky (2009).


Press Opportunities: To request high-resolution images, additional information or to schedule an interview, please contact MOPA Marketing & Communications Manager Raya Greenbaum at 619.238.7559 x203 or via email (

The Museum of Photographic Arts is a center for visual learning located in San Diego’s Balboa Park. Its mission is to “inspire, educate and engage the broadest possible audience through the presentation, collection, and preservation of photography, film and video.” As a 501(c)(3) organization, MOPA is generously supported by members, individuals, corporations, foundations and government agencies. Learn more at

Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and retired military with ID, $6 for students, and free for MOPA Members, active military with ID and children 12 & under. Pay What You Wish admission days are Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. San Diego City and County residents with ID are free the second Tuesday of every month.


Photo Credit: Emmet Gowin


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