NEW YORK, June 7, 2007 – Ruben Ramirez, ’05, and Hrvoje Slovenc, ’07, both of whom studied photography at The City College of New York (CCNY), have been named 2007-08 Mortimer Hays-Brandeis Traveling Fellows. They will each receive $16,000 toward travel and living expenses for up to a year of field work outside the United States related to independent research in the visual arts.
Mr. Ramirez, who grew up and lives in Washington Heights and received a B.A. in Art and Psychology from CCNY, plans to travel to the Dominican Republic to photograph child labor exploitation there, including children working on farms and in the streets, as well as in the sex industry. His goal is to have his portfolio published as a book. “I want to bring the issue to light,” he says. “It’s a world-wide issue – it’s not just in the Dominican Republic – and it’s not spoken about much.”
Mr. Ramirez, who has worked on the project during previous visits to the Dominican Republic, said he was moved by seeing a child in Boca Chica who was afraid to go home at the end of the day because he hadn’t sold enough candy apples. He also witnessed the father of another child, who was selling oranges, take his son’s earnings and use it to go out drinking.
“The project came from my heart and reflects my strength and passion,” he said, adding that he was “extremely grateful and happy” to be chosen as a Hays-Brandeis Fellow. He also thanked his mentors, Professors Bruce Habegger, Anne Leader, Shawn Walker and the late Joe Harris.
Mr. Slovenc, a native of Croatia who now lives in the Bronx, plans to document industrial sites in three of the world’s most contaminated cities: Kabwe, Zambia; Linfen, China, and Dzerzhink, Russia. The project will build on prior work he has done photographing 19th century factories and industrial space in Cleveland and his hometown of Zagreb.
“As a photographer, I am interested in documenting the physical legacy of industrialism, the way it has eaten away at entire urban neighborhoods, and as a trained scientist I’m greatly concerned about the less apparent, though even more pernicious ecological damage it continues to wreak on global populations and environments,” he said. In addition to a B.A. in Art from CCNY, Mr. Slovenc holds a B.S. in Biochemistry from University of Zagreb.
“Through the help of the Mortimer Hays-Brandeis Traveling Fellowship my final portfolio will tell three very particular stories about which few in the Western world are aware but which have universal implications,” he continued. In addition, he thanked Professors Habegger and Anne Leader, Assistant Professor of Art History and the current Fellowship Representative at CCNY, as well as Maria Politarhos, College Lab Technician and Adjunct Instructor of Photography, and Ayame Mizutome, ’05, herself a Hays-Brandeis Fellow, for their help, guidance and support.
The Mortimer Hays-Brandeis Traveling Fellowship provides support to students in the visual and fine arts, including art history, conservation, studio art and photography, for travel and living expenses outside the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii in accordance with a program of study or other activities approved by the fellowship selection committee. The fellowships are funded by income from the Mortimer and Sara Hays Endowment at Brandeis University. This year, 22 students were nominated for the three awards that were granted.
The program is open to graduating seniors and recent graduates from the following institutions: Brandeis University, Boston University, The City College of New York, Columbia University, Connecticut College, Gallaudet University, Harvard University, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf/Rochester Institute of Technology, Wesleyan University and Yale University.
Mr. Ramirez and Mr. Slovenc are the third and fourth CCNY graduates awarded the Fellowships over the past three years. In 2005, Ayame Mizutome, ’05, and Jennifer Simon, ’02, (MFA ’05) were named as Fellows. Ms. Mizutome documented Asian communities in four Andean nations. Ms. Simon went to Japan to study tsutsumi, the ancient craft of wrapping and packaging.
About The City College of New York
For 160 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. Over 13,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Architecture, the School of Education, the Grove School of Engineering, the Center for Worker Education and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.