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Andrea Morales wins TIME's Next Generation Photography Contest

Alex Koumas | Nov 21, 2011

Andrea Morales wins TIME’s Next Generation Photography Contest

By Alex Koumas,

ATHENS, Ohio (Nov. 21, 2011) – Andrea Morales, who just recently completed her coursework and is now a candidate for a Master’s degree in the School of Visual Communication, has been named the winner of the inaugural TIME Next Generation Photography contest.

TIME invited student photographers dedicated to envisioning and creating art—whether it be photojournalism, portraits, still life, conceptual or fine art—to submit a personal portfolio of photos for review by their editors. After receiving over hundreds of entries and portfolios, the TIME editors chose to honor Morales.

Students from more than 80 different colleges applied. Not only was Ohio University represented by Morales but also by the third-place finisher Brad Vest, who was also recently named College Photographer of the Year. Morales was awarded $2,500 and a portfolio review with the magazine’s photo editors.

Morales was born in Lima, Peru, and then moved to Miami, Fla., where she grew up. Part of her growing-up experience included transitioning from writing childish stories to capturing breathtaking pictures. Even though she explains this modification as “embarrassing,” this is what led her from focusing and embracing the art of words to finally engulfing herself into taking photos.

She earned her degree from the University of Florida in journalism and soon found herself working at a newspaper in Lima, Ohio. Given the nature of this industry, Morales stayed with the newspaper for only a year and then decided to broaden her horizon by attending Ohio University for graduate school.

Morales entered work was to examine various young women living in Glouster and their coming of age as young women in southeast Ohio. Morales’ photos detail how these women have faced poverty, drug abuse among family members and crime, all while attending one of the poorest school districts in Ohio.

“I think that for anyone that peeks out beyond the Athens-OU bubble, it’s clear that the rest of the county is living quite differently from us collegiate folks,” Morales explains. “The VisCom program encourages people to explore the community, and in my poking around, I was drawn to Glouster. I remember people saying that there wasn’t enough for the kids to do. That’s why I started out trying to see the youth.”

Even though Morales gained a great deal of knowledge and respect for these young girls and the lives they live, she experienced diverse reactions from the girls and their families throughout the entirety of the project. However, Morales ended up becoming a role model for these girls.

“Reactions always vary,” Morales stated. “I was definitely shut down a handful of times. And I definitely had to prove I wasn’t just parachuting into lives for a quarter and moving on after I got my grade or my project done. Most of the kids in my project are people I’m still pretty close too. I tried to project my openness to parents and I think they saw some benefit to having me around, if not only for the photos I was making of their daily lives that they wound up cherishing, but also because I tried to be a positive presence.”

Throughout the project, Morales saw glimpses of herself as a young woman.

“I don’t know that I think there’s anything that makes these girls different,” Morales states. “The photos are hopefully conveying that they want everything that many girls want growing up. I saw things I’ve dreamed about in their aspirations: the desire to nurture, the need for affection and an attraction to expressions of femininity. The thing that is different is, unfortunately, their circumstances. What becomes interesting is ultimately how much their circumstances wind up defining them.”

After receiving this outstanding recognition by an extremely prestigious magazine, Morales wants to continue to do work that matters.

“It’s a wonderful honor, but I need to make sure I can really continue to produce the kind of work that makes me neurotic and dazed and also hopefully strikes people as important,” Morales explains.

To learn more about Andrea Morales and her project, please visit