tar sands portraits – selected works
Jon Lowenstein specializes in long-term, in-depth documentary explorations that confront the realms of power, poverty, and social violence. Through the integral combination of photography, moving images, experiential prose and personal testimonials, he strives for unsparing clarity by revealing the subjects of history that lack voice.
Lowenstein’s commitment to social justice through community engagement runs deep. He has spent the past decade engaging his adopted community on Chicago’s South Side. This extensive body of work challenges accepted notions about community, poverty and the legacy of violence and segregation. Ultimately, he explores the social distance between hope and despair. The South Side is a true, integrative expression of a uniquely American time and place that opens new dialogic and physical spaces in which to engage both the local and global community. In full collaboration with his fellow South Siders, he will build the South Side Imagination Center, which will create a unique documentary and athletic dream space out of the ruins of an abandoned building.
During this time Lowenstein has also traveled, studied and documented the experiences of undocumented Latin Americans living throughout the United States. Shadow Lives USA follows the migrant trail from Central America, through Mexico and throughout the United States in an effort to tell the real stories of the men and women who make up the largest transnational migration in world history. This project, unique in its breadth and intimate scope, forces the viewer to engage with the impact of America’s punitive immigration and economic policies on some of the United States’ most vulnerable populations.
Lowenstein was recently awarded the 2012 Open Society Foundation’s Audience Engagement Grant. He was a 2011 John Simon Memorial Foundation Guggenheim Fellow in Photography for his work on the South Side. He is a TED Global Fellow and a 2012 Hasselblad Master. In 2008 he was named the Joseph P. Albright Fellow by the Alicia Patterson Foundation and also won a 2007 Getty Images Grants for Editorial Photography. He received a 2007 World Press Award and was named as a USC Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism Racial Justice Fellowship. He was awarded the 2005 NPPA New America Award, a 2004 World Press photo prize, 2003 Nikon Sabbatical Grant, the 58th National Press Photographer’s Pictures of the Year Magazine Photographer of the Year Award and Fuji Community Awareness Award.
His international assignments include covering elections in Afghanistan to the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti to social violence in Guatemala. Most recently, he completed a project about the impact of inhaled Nitric Oxide on cerebral Malaria in Ugandan children.
He is member and owner of the NOOR Images cooperative based in Amsterdam.