May 31, 2024    
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm



Over more than 40 years, I have had the great privilege to work as a photographer in close collaboration with varied communities and organizations in Latin America, especially in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Cuba and Colombia. In this work, I’ve had to learn about and deal with some ethical and social issues that arose for me as a photographer from the United States who crossed cultural boundaries to do this work.

My talk will be a presentation of some of the projects I’ve worked in, in order to explore some of those issues. We’ll talk about how photography’s historical and very strong claim to be telling the truth (though that’s probably changing these days) is one of the things that makes these issues important.

We’ll look a lot of pictures, a few historical, but almost all of them from various projects of mine.

Steve Cagan has been practicing activist photography since the mid-1970s. He’s most concerned with exploring strength and dignity in everyday struggles of grassroots people resisting their pressures and problems.

Major projects include:  factory closings in Ohio; Indochina; Nicaragua; El Salvador; and Cuba; and “Working Ohio,” an extended portrait of working people. Current major project, since 2003: “El Chocó, Colombia: Struggle for Cultural and Environmental Survival,” on the threatened rain forest and human cultures there.

He’s exhibited and published on four continents. Awards include two Fulbright Fellowships, and followships from National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council Fellowships, and New Jersey Arts Council. Taught at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, 1985-1993.

Co-author of This Promised Land, El Salvador, (1991 Book of the Year Award of Association for Humanist Sociology). In 1991, named “Teacher of the Year” at Rutgers University. The third major event that spring was being denied tenure at Rutgers.

Co-author of El Precio del Oro/The Price of Gold (Colombia, 2021) Also available as e-books in English or Spanish.