Jon Lowenstein has won the $10,000 Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize for his powerful, in-depth look at life in Chicago’s much-maligned South Side.
“The idea is to look at the South Side, in the space between the post-industrial meltdown to where Starbucks comes in,” he tells TIME, “and how globalization affects local communities, and ultimately how we deal with wealth inequality in the United States.”
Chicago’s South Side was historically a booming industrial center that saw economic decline and later became home to some of the Unites States’ largest public housing projects. The area is now undergoing a process of gentrification and swathes of African-American residents are leaving. Lowenstein has called the locality home for over ten years and has been documenting life there, he says, since he moved in.
“It’s really changing,” he adds. “But it’s a visually rich place, historically rich.”
Judges were particularly drawn to Lowenstein’s stylized video project “A Violent Thread,” which features interviews with locals. His personal poetry and narrative writing were also a key component of his win, officials say.
Lowenstein is owner and a member of NOOR Images and is the recipient of several fellowships and awards. His work has appeared in TIME, The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine, among others. He hopes to turn South Side into a book, and that the award will help him find a publisher.
The Lange-Taylor Prize is awarded annually and aims to encourage documentary projects that make use of the interplay of words and images.
Richard Conway is reporter/producer for TIME LightBox