When Dimitra Ermeidou (MFA Photography ’13) first received the email informing her that she was a winner in Dave Bown Projects 7th Semiannual Competition, she did not realize that she had won the $5,000 Grand Prize.

“I was really surprised and happy, and then I realized that I was the grand prize winner and that was really crazy,” Ermeidou said. “I just felt that this was very satisfying. That my efforts go somewhere, that there’s a response, there’s feedback, and that feedback is great.”

Her work, Polis, was judged by curators Jeremy Adams of CUE Art Foundation in New York, Janet Dees of SITE Santa Fe, and David S. Rubin of San Antonio Museum of Art.

“The work is a photo installation that was part of my thesis show,” Ermeidou said. “It depicts peripheral views of Athens, Greece, from the Parthenon, bearing Aristotle’s definitions of democracy in his ‘Politics,’ written through the code of punch cards. The theme of the show was the problematic association of democracy and neoliberal economics. I reflected on the enduring symbolism of Classical art and architecture as a conception of democracy, and wanted to explore its relevance to current discussions about egalitarianism and sovereignty in contemporary culture.”

Ermeidou had been living and working as an artist in Greece before moving to the United States and receiving her Master’s from Tyler. The inspiration for her work came from the sociopolitical adversities of the unprecedented fiscal crisis of her native country, together with the globalized manifestations of civic unrest.

“It was important that I had the chance to develop a body of work that would talk about issues that not only affect my country, but were also becoming more global,” Ermeidou said. “Apart from the national significance of ancient art, these representational conventions have carried through over time and place, from embodying the Enlightenment ideology, to denoting status and power in subsequent political and economic structures. I was interested in creating a space where we could question and redefine our assumptions concerning democratic values.”

Ermeidou hopes that others will be able to take advantage of opportunities like this one.

“If I had to wish for something, it would be that artists had more opportunities to show their work in more affordable and more visible ways. It is important to communicate your work and be in dialogue with your audience. I wish for more opportunities to have this dialogue,” Ermeidou said.

This article was written by Kayla Cropper and first published on Temple University’s Student Life.