Joseph Rodriguez was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He began studying photography at the School of Visual Arts and went on to receive an AAS from New York City Technical College. He worked in the graphic arts industry before deciding to pursue photography further. In 1985, he graduated with a degree in photojournalism and documentary from the International Center of Photography in New York. He went on to work for Black Star photo agency, and print and online news organizations like National Geographic, the New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, Newsweek, New York Magazine, Esquire, Stern, BBC News and New America Media, as well as advertising campaigns for Levi’s, AIG, and Ikea. He has received awards and grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellowship, USC Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism, the Open Society Institute Justice Media Fellowship and Katrina Media Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography, the Alicia Patterson Fellowship Fund for Investigative Journalism and the Konstnarsnamden Stipendium. He has been awarded Pictures of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association and the University of Missouri in 1990, 1992, 1996, and 2002. He is the author of Spanish Harlem, part of the American Scene series, by the National Museum of American Art/D.A.P., as well as “East Side Stories: Gang Life in East Los Angeles,” “Juvenile,” “Flesh Life: Sex in Mexico City,” “Still Here: Stories After Katrina,” and “Spanish Harlem: El Barrio in the ’80s” (Powerhouse Books). Recent exhibitions include Aperture Gallery, Galerie Bene Taschen in Cologne, Germany, Reva and David Logan Gallery for Documentary Photography at the Graduate School of Journalism in Berkeley, California, the Bronx Documentary Center in New York, NY, Gulf & Western Gallery in New York, NY, Hardhitta Gallery in Cologne, Germany, Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography at the University of La Verne, California, Third Floor Gallery in Cardiff, Wales, U.K., Institute for Public Knowledge in New York, NY, Moving Walls at the Open Society Institute in New York, NY, and Cultural Memory Matters at 601 Art Space in New York, NY. He has been a visiting artist at Stanford University, the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, California, the University of La Verne, California, Columbia University’s School of Journalism, New York, the University of Texas, Austin’s School of Journalism, Ringling School of Art and Design, Florida, the University of Helsinki, Finland, Aarhus University, Denmark, Royal University of Fine Arts’ School of Architecture, Sweden, Loyola Marymount University, California, Hostos Community College, New York, and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, New York. He presently teaches at New York University Tisch School of the Arts and the International Center of Photography.
Rubén Martínez is a writer, performer, and teacher. He holds the Fletcher Jones Chair in Literature and Writing at Loyola Marymount University, and he is an artist-in-residence at Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts.
He is the author of Desert America: A Journey Across Our Most Divided Landscape and Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail, and other titles.
An Emmy Award-winning journalist, his essays, opinions and reportage have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Boom: A Journal of California, Salon, The Village Voice, The Nation, SPIN, Sojourners, and Mother Jones.
He is the recipient of a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, the Loeb Fellowship from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, a Freedom of Information Award from the ACLU and a Greater Press Club of Los Angeles Award of Excellence.
Dr. Jesse De La Cruz was raised in the barrios of California. At the age of 12, he began a journey that led him to join a neighborhood street gang, heroin addiction, prison and eventual membership into a violent prison gang. He served approximately 30 years in numerous California State Prisons from Soledad to San Quentin. After his final release from Folsom State Prison on April 2, 1996, Dr. De La Cruz committed himself to a residential drug treatment program in June 1996 and has been clean and sober ever since.
In the spring of 1997, Dr. De La Cruz enrolled in a community college. He had not attended school since his December 1968 expulsion from high school as a sophomore student. In 2001, he graduated with his Baccalaureate Degree in Sociology. From there he went on to obtain a Masters of Social Work Degree in 2003. After a seven-year hiatus, he returned to college and obtained the highest degree possible in his chosen field, an Educational Doctorate (Ed.D) at California State University, Stanislaus in 2014. His dissertation was a study of gang members titled: Mexican American/Chicanos Gang Members’ Voice on Social Control in the Context of School and Community: A Critical Ethnographic Case Study in the City of Stockton, CA.
In 2011, Dr. De La Cruz published his memoir Detoured: My Journey from Darkness to Light which chronicles his involvement in gangs, drugs and eventual incarceration. He has lectured students, teachers, and community leaders about his experiences with gangs, drugs, crime, and our immense judicial and prison system and gives possible solutions.
A natural storyteller, Dr. De La Cruz reveals during his presentations a deep and rich understanding of the causes and conditions that bring about gang involvement, criminal behavior, drug addiction and our nation’s huge incarceration problem.