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Photographer Joseph Rodriguez Talks About Race, Ethnicity, Culture, and Photography

Award-winning photographer Joseph Rodriguez shared his work with students, faculty, and staff in a packed Regina Peruggi Room.

On Thursday, February 23rd, award-winning photographer Joseph Rodriguez shared his story and his work with students, faculty, and staff.  After giving a short biography, Rodriguez shared work from his 1990 series documenting the people and culture of East Harlem.  As he did so, he talked about the power of photography to tell stories and to help us re-imagine the world as we receive it from the mainstream media.  He encouraged students to look up from their iPhones and other devices to actually engage with other people – to hear their stories and think about how they can tell those stories in their own work.

As Rodriguez explains on his website, this is at the core of his work:

“As a documentary photographer for over 25 years, my point of view has been to work slowly when it is possible. The domestic landscape of America has been my interest for the past two decades. Today I continue to work within the social documentary practice, covering the struggles of everyday life… I continue to tell stories that have had an affect on my life so that we can diminish this distance and develop a better understanding” ( 

Rodriquez studied at the International Center of Photography, New York City Technical College, and the School of Visual Arts.  His long list of grants, felllowships, and awards includes an Open Society Grant (2013), the New York Foundation for the Arts Artists’ Fellowship (2010), the Open Society Katrina Media Fellowship (2006), the Konstnarsnamden Stipendium from the Swedish Arts Council (2003), the Ochberg Fellowship from Dart Center for Trauma and Journalism (2003), and the Open Society Justice Media Fellowship for Investigative Journalism (1999).

Rodriguez’s work has recently been exhibited at Galleri Kontrast, Stockholm, Sweden; The African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA; The Fototeca, Havana, Cuba; Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham, Alabama; Open Society Institute’s Moving Walls, New York; Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery at the Walter Reade Theater at the Lincoln Center; and the Kari Kenneti Gallery, Helsinki, Finland.

He has published multiple books, including Juvenile (Powerhouse Books, 2004), East Side Stories: Gang Life in East Los Angeles (Powerhouse Books, 1998), and Spanish Harlem (“American Scene” series, National Museum of American Art, 1995).  This summer, an updated version of his Spanish Harlem work will be published as Spanish Harlem: El Barrio in the ’80s by Powerhouse Books.

Rodriguez teaches at New York University and the International Center of Photography and has also taught at universities in Mexico and Europe.


Published: February 23, 2017