Joy of Giving Something (JGS), the not-for-profit organization administering the Forward Thinking Museum, is proud to present the 2011 Annual JGS Artist Award in the amount of $15,000 to photographer MISHA FRIEDMAN.

The jurors on our award panel have singeled out his series Donbass Romanticism for its unflinching look at coal mines and abandoned factories and their health effects on the residents of Donetsk Oblast, a heavily industrialized region in eastern Ukraine.

Our juried photography contest is ongoing. We are currently accepting submissions to the first quarter of 2012. Deadline: March 31, 2012.


In Europe romantics revolted in the second half of the 18th century against the industrial revolution – against rationalization of nature, against social and political norms. In art, a viewer once again was allowed to use his emotions and imagination. Inspired in particular by German and French Romanticism, this project is my attempt to show how nature and man have learned to live within the industrial complex in Ukraine.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, much of Eastern Ukraine ended up in ruins – mines and massive factories are still lying abandoned, people are unemployed or earn just enough to survive, abandoned by the government. Nature is taking over in full force.

– Misha Friedman


Misha Friedman was born in Moldova, then part of the Soviet Union. He now lives in New York City but maintains his interest in Eastern Europe. He currently works on a few long-term photography projects, both social documentary and fine art. Mr. Friedman's interest in photography and social themes have grown out of his preceding occupation with international medical organizations, when he worked as a logistician in many impoverished countries around the globe.