Award-winning photojournalist Alison Wright returned to the Society of Skeptics on October 27 to share timely images in her virtual presentation, “Pandemic to Protest: Photos of New York City.” Ordinarily a global traveler, Ms. Wright took advantage of the past several months spent at home in New York to record her daily observations of city life amid the coronavirus pandemic and protests against racism.
“Speaking at Blair Academy has become an opportunity that I look forward to every year,” Ms. Wright said, expressing gratitude to retired history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, for inviting her numerous times during his tenure as Society of Skeptics director. “As a documentary photographer, I am constantly working on various projects, so there is always something new to show and speak about. I cover many disaster and conflict situations, and this year, a crisis came to my own city of New York. My presentation includes my global coverage, as well as images from pandemic to protests.”
Writing about her “Pandemic to Protests” project on her website, Ms. Wright notes that as she documents her observations in New York, she does so well protected and at a safe social distance from people. “This distance is a departure from how I usually work,” she writes, “but finding some story or connection with those whom I meet has been a universal theme throughout my photography projects around the world. This photo journal is simply my own musings of the people and places I encounter on my daily walks.”
Ms. Wright has published several books of photography, and her work has appeared in publications including National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic Adventure, Time, Forbes, O: The Oprah Magazine and The New York Times. She was named a National Geographic Traveler of the Year in 2013 for her purposeful travel to places like Ebola-ridden Liberia and war-torn Congo and Afghanistan. She is a recipient of the Dorothea Lange Award in Documentary Photography and a two-time winner of the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award.
Gravely injured in a bus accident in Laos in 2000, Ms. Wright documented her long rehabilitation and struggle to regain her life in Learning to Breathe: One Woman’s Journey of Spirit and Survival. This experience, and her extensive work as a photographer for humanitarian organizations led her to establish the Faces of Hope Fund, a nonprofit that globally supports women and children’s rights by creating visual awareness and donating directly to grass-roots organizations that help to sustain them.
A graduate of Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism, Ms. Wright completed her master’s degree in visual anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley.
The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.
The program, which is funded in part by The Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, was an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon. ’65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please click here.