Click here to learn about our other Cycle #1 mini-grant winner, Tyra Shackleford.

Megan E. Doherty ~ Copyright © Hyde Park Herald

Congratulations to Megan Doherty on a successful grant application! 

The following is her proposal:

My path to photography was long and roundabout. I went to graduate school, and not for anything having to do with art. But I had always loved photography and felt extremely happy --and comfortable-- behind the camera. While getting a PhD in the philosophy of religion, I took a trip to Chile in 2007. And a simple request by complete strangers led to an epiphany that, after cooking in my brain for another four-ish years, eventually changed my life. While we were in el Valle de la Luna, a family asked me to take a photo of them. They handed me their Nikon, and as I looked through the viewfinder, it was as though I felt something in me shift. I was suddenly confronted with a very existential question: "Why am I doing what I'm doing, instead of this?" So about six months after I finally graduated in 2010, and recognizing that tenure was dying a slow and painful death, I decided to start over from scratch and do what I always wanted to do to begin with. I ordered my first DSLR - and had no idea what I was doing. But I knew what I wanted to do. I fell in love with humanistic documentary photography. I just needed a story.

A little over a year later, I found one.

I began a documentary photography project where I followed the last remaining member of a small street ministry who works with gangs and advocates for the poor.

I would like to start a new project that will express my experience suffering from a chronic "invisible" illness, myalgic encephalomyelitis. While I had always dealt with unrelenting fatigue and cognitive impairments (brain fog, memory deficit), I was still highly functional. Then nearly three years ago I had a sudden attack that left me barely able to move or speak, and doctors scratching their heads.

It's been a long, slow process of recovering to my "new normal". There were some days I couldn't shuffle a few blocks down the street. Other days the act of sitting up and talking with a friend completely eviscerated me, and I had to lay down, not moving or speaking, for hours. 

While I've improved I'm not the same, and cannot live the way I used to. I want to convey what I've dealt with, as well as help educate the public about this under-researched, under-funded disease. Historically, patients have been belittled, dismissed, or told they are "crazy" and it's all in their heads. Only one-third of medical schools in the United States even teach this disease, despite the fact that there may be up to 2.5 million Americans who have it--which would make it more prevalent than Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, or HIV/AIDS. A quarter of patients are homebound or completely bedridden, and nearly 90 percent are unable to work. The total economic cost, in terms of lost productivity and health care expenses, may top $24 billion in the US alone.

People with invisible illnesses often deal with discrimination because we may not "look" sick enough. I want to convey the extreme sense of constraint and limitation I've experienced, so my plan is to reflect those limitations in the photo process itself, as well as the presentation. I will use an old film camera, and so I will need to buy film for it. That's what I would use this grant for, to help purchase film. 

You may be the next grant winner! Click here to apply. 

There is no specific type of artist that we focus on or primarily support. Creative expression comes in a wide variety of artistic disciplines and genres. We are looking for passion and excellence in your craft. Tell us why your work is important to you and how you hope it will impact others.  
Integrity: Arts & Culture Association is honored to support Megan Doherty's project and we wish her the best in all of her future artistic endeavors!
Where Eagles Soar (Isaiah 40:31)
Back of the Yards, Spring, 2014 ~ Copyright © Megan E. Doherty
Girl in Window, 2014 ~ Copyright © Megan E. Doherty