Jon Lowenstein

Jon Lowenstein

Jon Lowenstein (USA, 1970) specializes in long-term, in-depth documentary explorations that confront the realms of power, poverty, racial discrimination and violence. Through the combination of photography, moving images, experiential writing and poetry, he strives for unsparing clarity by revealing the subjects of history that lack voice. Lowenstein’s commitment to social justice through community engagement runs both deep and long. As a son of a holocaust survivor he’s particularly interested in Diaspora communities and the struggle for autonomy and personal security.

He has spent the past decade engaging his adopted community on Chicago’s South Side where he taught photography in the Chicago Public Schools, ran a community newspaper and is currently creating the South Side Imagination Center in conjunction with fellow community members. This effort will create a unique documentary and athletic dream space out of the ruins of an abandoned building. This extensive and powerful body of work South Side challenges accepted notions about community, poverty, segregation, and ultimately, what is the real space between hope and power. Told by the community with fewer filters, and still with an aesthetic that’s a unique personal collaboration between himself and his community, South Side is a true integrative expression of a uniquely American time and place. This participatory media project seeks to open new dialogic and physical spaces in which to engage both the immediate community and the global community at large.

During this time Lowenstein has 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 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.

He won the Dorothea Lange/Paul Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Lowenstein was named a John Simon Memorial Foundation Guggenheim Fellow in Photography. He is a 2014 TED Global Fellow and he was named 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 also won a 2007 World Press Award and was named as a USC Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism Racial Justice Fellowship. He won 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. His last project focuses on the impact of inhaled Nitric Oxide on cerebral Malaria in Ugandan Children.



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  • Mexican migrants wait to cross into the United States.
  • Photographs of the impact and aftermath of social violence in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
  • Mariah Driver plays Hide and Seek with her sisters outside her house on S. Chicago St. in Chicago's Pocket Town neighborhood.
  • A girl and her brothers pose for their picture in the Pocket. Approximately 63% of African-American kids grow up in single parent households.
  • During the past decade, millions of Mexican and Central American migrants have left their homes and families, faced death on the journey to the United States and lived under the specter of criminality once in this country.  Despite these obstacles, these
  • Photographs of the United States Border Patrol Special Response Team Training in New Mexico.
  • Photographs of the United States Border Patrol Special Response Team Training in New Mexico.
  • Photographs of the impact and aftermath of social violence in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
  • Photographs of the South Side by Jon Lowenstein

in plain sight: modern day slavery in the united states

Jon Lowenstein -

Nilda always dreaded Friday nights. The parties were the worst. Not only did she…

chicago’s bloody year

Jon Lowenstein -

“I’m afraid Chicago is dying. There is some semblance that society is running as…

chicago, where the gun is the law – news report

Jon Lowenstein -

As a long-time resident of Chicago, Jon Lowenstein visualizes in a harsh but intimate and poetic…

sanga’s dream

Jon Lowenstein - December 2011

Sanga Moses grew up in a small village of his namesake in Southwestern Uganda.…

just another day in the ‘hood

Jon Lowenstein - November 2012

Four years ago I spent one of the most wonderful days of my life…

the masks we wear

Jon Lowenstein - May 2012

After the end of a peaceful protest march during the NATO summit on 20…

sao paolo rising

Jon Lowenstein -

During the next four years Brazil will host both the 2014 World Cup and…

occupy chicago

Jon Lowenstein - October 2011

After a slow start last month with about 15 people the Occupy movement has…

shadow lives USA

Jon Lowenstein - January 2005

During the past decade, millions of Latin American migrants have left their homes and…

the cuban solution – solutions

Jon Lowenstein - October 2010

“The amount and type of energy we consume is a result of two kinds…

aftershock haiti

Jon Lowenstein - January 2010

Already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere Haiti experienced a cataclysmic earthquake on…

los deportados

Jon Lowenstein - December 2009

Thousands of Mexican and Central American migrants are returned to their home countries each…