June 2014 Artist in Residence: Carlos Javier Ortiz

Carlos Javier Ortiz, from  We All We Got

Carlos Javier Ortiz, from We All We Got

Our residency program continues into the summer with Chicago photographer Carlos Javier Ortiz! Ortiz's decade-long project We All We Got is an intense documentation of youth violence and its consequences, largely as documented in poverty stricken urban neighborhoods. The prints for this project will be featured in an exhibition that opens in Chicago at David Weinberg Photography this October, and in New York at the Bronx Documentary Center in January of 2015. There will be a book released in conjunction with the project this fall. Ortiz will be giving an artist talk at LATITUDE, details TBA. 

Project Statement: We All We Got explores the consequences and devastation of youth violence in contemporary America from 2006 to 2013, through a mix of powerful photographs, incisive essays and moving letters from diverse individuals affected by this perennial scourge.

 Carlos Javier Ortiz’s work provides an avenue for knowing these children and their families. This work is not the end of the conversation about youth violence and society’s complicity in it, but rather the beginning. The terror in the eyes of grieving children and inconsolable mothers only allows the viewer to begin to understand the toll that this reality takes on the children who live it. 

The stories take place in Chicago and Philadelphia. By repeatedly returning to the same neighborhoods over the course of eight years, Ortiz shows the plight of the communities with which he has built a deep connection. You see abandoned buildings, memorials for victims, segregation, graffiti, juvenile incarceration and other constant reminders of the outcomes of violence on young people and their surroundings.  

 But through all the heartbreak, you also see the incredible resilience of the individuals left behind. And where there is terror, there is also a glimpse of the innocence that remains and a tiny glimmer of hope.

Carlos Javier Ortiz was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and raised in Chicago. As a visual artist, he works with photography, film and text and specializes in long-term documentaries that focus on urban life, gun violence, race, poverty and marginalized communities. Ortiz collaborates with his subjects by asking them to share their personal narratives and testimonials. His work confronts human suffering while simultaneously illuminating compassion and optimism. 

Ortiz has received numerous accolades for his work, including the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights Photography award for his series “Too Young to Die,” a multi-year, comprehensive examination of youth violence in the United States and Central America.  He has also received grants from the Open Society Foundations, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the California Endowment National Health Journalism Fellowship, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award. 

Ortiz’s photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, and are displayed in the permanent collections of the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts, the International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, N.Y., the Library of Congress in Washington, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and the Detroit Institute of Arts. 

Carlos Javier Ortiz lives in Chicago and Oakland, California.