Michael P. Smith Fund For Documentary Photography 2020 Grantee Riel and Bianca Sturchio Riel and Bianca Sturchio

Chasing Light is an ongoing (circa 2011) collaborative photography project between twin siblings Bianca and riel Sturchio.

Chasing Light embodies the belief that representation, visibility, autonomy, and truth-telling can promote personal empowerment, and open up access to spaces that foster meaningful dialogue and community. Bianca and riel utilize photography as a means to delve into the complications of their respective non-normative identities and health-related challenges. Bianca and riel were both born premature with severely delayed developmental milestones, which doctors later diagnosed as cerebral palsy (CP). With the help of rigorous physical therapy and medical interventions, riel and Bianca learned how to adapt to their bodies. riel’s body endured less trauma and therefore responded more rapidly to therapy, however, riel lives with the consequences of invisible chronic illness related to prematurity. Currently, riel’s CP remains nearly undetectable, while Bianca lives with the physical and social consequences of her visible disabilities. 

See more of the series here:
Chasing Light


Juror's Statement

This work by Riel and her sister Bianca is a tender revelation. It is a collaborative project that uses the visual language of portraiture, still life, moments and landscape to explore queerness, disability and sisterhood. It illuminates life at the margins and is fearless in how it represents identity and love. It is a story of survival, topped with triumph and no small measure of beauty.

Chasing Light has also become an inclusive project inviting LGBTQ+/non-binary/ill/disabled residents of their home state Maine to participate in sharing their stories. As one participant stated on the Chasing Light website:
It’s important to see yourself reflected in popular bodies of artistic work and media; that act of accountability of representing the reality that others face is massively important to making strides for improvement. -Hannie

Sarah Leen
Founder / Editor
The Visual Thinking Collective

IG: @roseleen


Congratulations to all of the Finalists in the 2020 Michael P. Smith Fund For Documentary Photography