Justin Maxon
Justin Maxon

July 5th, 2013 “Hey Bro, well its 7 months today since you was taken away from us . . . I know you don’t want to see us down & heart broken. It is going to get harder b4 it get easy but we trying.” Since the murder of her twin brother on December 5th of 2012, Elena Jo McElwee, writes to him on the 5th day of every month. She fills the blank space on her bedroom walls with notes to her brother. She must maintain this connection with him. She must never forget.

In Chester, Pennsylvania families are seeking justice and yearning for ways to heal. With one of the highest homicide rates in the country, the city has sustained unresolved loss of hundreds of lives over the last twenty years. Oppressive social structures and negligent law enforcement have lead to prolonged, collective trauma. Family photos are tucked in albums and other keepsakes stowed away in drawers. By opening drawers and revisiting albums, this work aims to restore fragile memories and forge pathways to justice, healing, and restitution for the families of Chester.

Artist Bios

  • Justin Maxon

    Justin Maxon is a photographer, writer, and filmmaker. He was born and raised in Northern California, where he grew up part-time on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. As a visual storyteller, educator, and socially engaged artist, he collaborates with communities, making design and ideation decisions with participants. His work seeks to challenge authoritative systems of knowledge through repositioning members of society within the social hierarchy and understanding his own positionality. His work has received numerous awards and has appeared in publications including TIME, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Mother Jones, and The New York Times.


  • Magnum Foundation

    Magnum Foundation

    Magnum Foundation expands creativity and diversity in visual storytelling, activating new audiences and ideas through the innovative use of images. Through grant making, mentorship, and creative collaborations, we partner with socially-engaged imagemakers exploring new models for storytelling.

    This program was produced with the support of Magnum Foundation’s Counter Histories initiative supporting projects that creatively reframe the past to engage with urgent questions of the present and future.

Heaven’s Gain

 archive : 2013

Featuring: Justin Maxon

Presented by: Magnum Foundation
  • Magnum Foundation


View Location Details Brooklyn Bridge Park – Pier 5 Uplands

NY 11201

Location open 24 hours

Exhibition Design by Kiersten Nash, By Design.

Related Events

Sep 212013

Documenting Communities Impacted by Gun Violence

The Magnum Foundation’s panel discussion will highlight the experiences of photographers and activists working in communities affected by gun violence. Issues of access, process, and protection for photographers will be addressed. Organized in conjunction with MF’s installation at Photoville: Heaven’s Gain: Recent work by Justin Maxon.

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