Visual Artist: Photography
Steve Cagan lives in Cleveland, Ohio. He was born in New York City in 1943. HIs education was in English Literature (BA w/honors, City College) and US History (MA, Indiana University). He’s been photographing and exhibiting seriously since the mid-1970s. Major work is in what is often called documentary, but what Steve prefers to call activist or socially-engaged photography. He’s most concerned with exploring strength and dignity in everyday struggles of grassroots people resisting their pressures and problems. His avian photography is a by-product of a long-standing love of nature and birding.
Major projects have included: “Industrial Hostages,” on factory closings in Ohio; Indochina; Nicaragua; El Salvador (especially about a community that formed in a refugee camp and returned to found a new town); and Cuba (especially about the struggles of working-class people in the harsh economy after the fall of the USSR), and “Working Ohio,” an extended portrait of working people. Current major project, since 2003: “El Chocó, Colombia: Struggle for Cultural and Environmental Survival,” documenting that threatened rain forest area and the special cultures there.
Steve has exhibited and published photography on four continents. He has published reviews and critical writings in a variety of professional journals and books. Major awards include two Fulbright Fellowships, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and several Ohio Arts Council Fellowships and New Jersey Arts Council Fellowships. Steve taught at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, 1985-1993.
Co-author (with his wife Beth) of This Promised Land, El Salvador, which won the 1991 Book of the Year Award of Association for Humanist Sociology. In 1991, he was named “Teacher of the Year” at Rutgers University. The third major event of that spring was being denied tenure at Rutgers.
More work is at www.stevecagan.com, www.pbase.com/stevecagan, and http://socialdocumentary.net/photographer/stevecagan, among other places.