‘El Barrio in the ’80s’ on View in the Bronx

Photographer Joseph Rodriguez

The “Spanish Harlem: El Barrio in the ’80s” exhibit, on display at the Bronx Documentary Center through Dec. 23, features the Kodachrome images found in photographer Joseph Rodriguez’s new book of the same name.

In a story for Mott Haven Herald, reporter Leah Drayton describes how the 66-year-old Brooklyn native went from a “self-described troubled teen” to an International Center of Photography intern and went on to attain a degree from New York City Technical College. The photojournalist teaches photography at ICP and NYU, and has taught abroad, and had his work included in National Geographic, The New York Times and other publications and books.

Amid Rodriguez’s international acclaim, Harlem remains the place where he feels at home.

To get the shots for this show, Rodriguez attended birthdays, funerals, holy communions and other intimate events – waiting for the perfect moment to capture an image.

“When I get off at 149th and 3rd, I’m at home,” said Rodriguez. “I’m at home because I can talk to the gente, I know what their concerns are, I know what it’s like to grow up on welfare, I know what’s it like to be a dope fiend.”

Rodriguez explains that when it comes to the show, “It’s about our kids.”

“This show is not about my ego, or how great I am or how great the photos are. It is about what this individual did, who grew up similar to the way they are growing up, with all the difficulties. I want them to say, ‘That guy’s last name is Rodriguez, that guy went to Riker’s Island. But you know what? That guy changed something.’”

Find out about the educational aspect of the show and read more on Rodriguez – including the sight in 1965 that remains with him to this day, his path from a troubled teen to a professional photojournalist and why he calls himself a “turtle” of a photographer – at Mott Haven Herald.

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