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Photographer Maisie Crow Documents A Young Life Of Poverty, Violence

Illustration for article titled Photographer Maisie Crow Documents A Young Life Of Poverty, Violence

The image at left shows "Autumn," a 17-year-old girl from Ohio who has been the victim of domestic violence, suffered within the cycle of extreme poverty, and is now the subject of photographer Maisie Crow's series "Love Me."


As Phil Coomes reports on the BBC blog Viewfinder, Maisie Crow has been selected as the winner of this years Ian Parry Award. Ian Parry was a photojournalist who died in 1989 at age 24 while on assignment for the Sunday Times. The scholarship foundation was created by Parry's friends and family, and provides support to one young photographer (under 24) each year. The award is given to the photographer whose work best expresses a "personal vision," both through images and the accompanying text. This year, the judges selected Crow, a graduate of the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University for her series Love Me.

Love Me is a striking collection of images that depicts the everyday life of a teenager from Ohio, who Crow renames "Autumn." Autumn lives with her parents and two siblings. According to her father, the family of survive on a mere $14,000 a year (this is over $10,000 less than the federal poverty line for a family of their size). On Crow's website, she explains,

[Autumn] is coming of age in an environment that lacks the emotional and financial resources to facilitate her growth into adulthood. At this vulnerable point in her life, she is seeking love and support but has a difficult time finding people who can provide emotional stability.

Autumn is growing up in the cycle of generational poverty.

However, poverty is only one of the many difficulties Autumn faces in her day-to-day life. The general tone of Love Me is rather bleak and discomforting, but some particularly unsettling images reveal the violence that has become commonplace in Autumn's life. Crow's photographs impart a feeling of extreme unease through her stark yet visually intense representation of Autumn's world. The picture above shows Autumn sitting between the legs of a male relative, who tried to rape her four years ago. Autumn has told her family about the attack, but her parents do not believe her.


Another disturbing scene shows a man, identified by Crow as Autumn's ex-boyfriend, assaulting her over the kitchen sink. He pushes her head down toward the running faucet as Autumn raises her hand in what could be either self defense or shock. Crow also documents a cluster of bruises on Autumn's breast, which were the result of a neighbor's unwelcome attention. "She started dating him the following week. She says she felt sorry for him and that he said he would not hurt her again," reads Crow's caption.

Although Autumn is only a pseudonym, the disturbing world represented in Love Me is real. An exhibition of Maisie's work will be on view at the Getty Images Gallery in London starting August 5th for one week.

Ian Parry Award Winner [Viewfinder]
Ian Parry Scholarship [Official Website]
Maisie Crow [Official Website]

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How did this photographer find this family, and how was she allowed to just hang out with them and take pictures of them in situations like this? I'm not trying to say its not real, but I just can't understand how a family, especially a poor one, would do that without asking for money, without feeling exploited.