Biography

© Christopher Michel

© Christopher Michel

Sarah Blesener was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She studied Linguistics and Youth Development at North Central University. While at university, she worked as a photographer for the organization Healing Haiti based in Port au Prince, Haiti, covering events surrounding the 2010 earthquake.

Upon graduation in 2012, she studied at Bookvar Russian Academy in Minneapolis, concentrating on the Russian language. She is a recent graduate of the Visual Journalism and Documentary Practice program at the International Center of Photography in New York. Her latest work revolves around issues of youth culture and movements, focusing on Russia, Eastern Europe and the United States.

I believe that in order to create significant media and photographs that create change, it is necessary to engage in long-term research and commitment to a region and topic, and this is my goal in photography – to commit myself to long-term projects and work.
— Sarah Blesener

Beckon Us From Home

In patriot camps and clubs around the United States, roughly 400,000 children are taught annually, often with military subtext, what it means to be an American. Here, in this microcosm of a changing nation, youth straddle the vulnerability of adolescence and the simultaneous stripping of individuality. Sarah Blesener’s ongoing work examines the interplay of religion, love of country, and military-style training in the teaching of ‘New Americanism’ amongst youth.

In patriot camps and clubs around the United States, roughly 400,000 children are taught annually, often  with military subtext, what it means to be an American. Here, in this microcosm of a changing nation, youth straddle the vulnerability of adolescence and the simultaneous stripping of individuality. Sarah Blesener’s ongoing work examines the interplay of religion, love of country, and military-style training in the teaching of ‘New Americanism’ amongst youth.

See the Impact

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Explore how Sarah Blesener is using her project to engage youth in conversations on national identity and patriotism in their own lives.

IN THE PRESS

Youth Camps Shape New Generations with Patriotism, Pushups and Prayer
Reveal News | From the Center for Investigative Reporting

Border Agents In Training
The California Sunday Magazine | The Teens Issue

A New Generation of Kids Learns to Live Like Soldiers
National Geographic Photography | Photographer Sarah Blesener visits a group of Young Marines being taught to embody a patriotic love of God and country.

Coming of Age Amid Patriotic Training
The New York Times | Lens Blog

Becoming Private Nelson
Topic | For this patriotic American teenager, joining the military isn’t a choice—it’s a calling.

In Sarah Blesener’s Photographs, Youth Patriotism in America and Russia Bear a Striking Resemblance
Artsy | Visual Culture