Max Hernandez-Zapata ’19.

Twelve Hamilton students have received creativity grants from the Steven Daniel Smallen Memorial Fund.

The Smallen Fund aims to encourage student creativity among Hamilton students by providing funds for projects displaying originality, expressiveness and imagination. Hamilton Vice President for Libraries and Information Technology David Smallen and his wife Ann established the fund in 1993 in memory of their son Steven. Steven Smallen studied at Hamilton for a year while receiving treatment for leukemia, before losing his battle with cancer in 1992.

2016 Smallen grant recipients

  • Maraina Adams ’17
  • Saige Devlin ’18
  • Merisa Dion ’17
  • Ha Mi Do ’17
  • Max Freedman ’17
  • Max Hernandez-Zapata ’19
  • Irene Lin ’17
  • Julie Lin ’17
  • Minh Nguyen ’17
  • Marisabel Rey ’19
  • Ellison Sherrill ’17
  • Jessica Springer ’17

Max Hernandez-Zapata ’19 is undertaking a project of local interest. In “The City God Forgot?” he will shoot a series of photographs that explores the socio-economic structure of the middle-class population in Utica, N.Y. The series will juxtapose photos of empty storefronts and abandoned houses with portraits of residents and their opinions of the American Dream.

In his proposal, Los Angeles native Hernandez-Zapata said he was intrigued by the idea of a historic mill town and is anxious to trace the transition from iron belt to rust belt. “I hope to highlight how the American Dream has changed over the course of the last half century,” he explained.

His project is supervised by Professor of History Douglas Ambrose, and Assistant Professor of Art Robert Knight. Ambrose helps Hernandez-Zapata research the history of Utica, while Knight provides insights regarding the different spaces in Utica that fit the photographic context of Zapata’s project.

Although Zapata has not taken any classes with either Ambrose or Knight, he was advised to ask them for help answering his questions and guiding him with the implementing his ideas. “This confirms how Hamilton is a close-knit community. The ability to have meaningful relationships with professors is why I applied to Hamilton,” said Zapata.

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