University Communications

Award-winning photographer presents Columbus Day lecture

October 08, 2013 |
Article Photo
Photo Credit: Provided

José Galvez will be the keynote speaker for USI's Columbus Day event, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Thursday, October 10 in University Center’s Carter Hall. He will talk about his experience as a Latino photographer and journalist.

Galvez's work is on display through October 15 in the first and second floor display cases in the Liberal Arts Center. Galvez has used the starkness of black and white photography to capture the essence of Latino life in America for the past 40 years. His approach is to reveal the simple beauty of everyday life. This has been his solitary commitment in his photography. His images pay homage to the culture, history, and personal story of the Latino people.

When Galvez was 10, he carried his shoeshine box into the building of the Arizona Daily Star. After that night, he was a permanent fixture in the newsroom. He bought a camera at a pawn shop in high school and inspired by his mentors at the paper, went on to major in journalism at the University of Arizona. Upon graduation he became a staff photographer at the Star.

No matter what his assignments were, Galvez always focused his lens on the barrios of Tucson - his home - and the people who lived, worked, and loved there. He had his first professional exhibition when he was just 22 years old. At about the same time, his participation in the Chicano Movement led him to see his work as more than a passion: he had a responsibility to capture the history of his people.

The first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded to Mexican-American journalists

Galvez moved on to the Los Angeles Times, becoming the first Mexican-American photographer on staff. In 1984, he was on a team of reporters and photographers that won a Pulitzer Prize for a series on Latino life in southern California: the first Chicanos to win the prize. He left the Times in 1992 after winning many other awards for his photographs.

The work goes on: books, exhibits, grants and studies

Galvez has never stopped photographing Latino life in the United States, reaching into new areas and new pursuits. He served as senior photo editor for Americanos, a multi-media exhibition led by Edward James Olmos. In 2000, he published his first solo book, Vatos, a collaboration with esteemed poet Luis Alberto Urrea. Then, in Beloved Land, he and oral historian Patricia Martin explored the lives of Mexican pioneer ranchers in the American Southwest.

In the last 40 years, Galvez's photographs have been exhibited in museums and galleries here and abroad, including the Smithsonian. But more often, you’ll find him toting portable exhibits to schools, libraries, fiestas, lowrider shows, and rodeos.

In 2004, Galvez and his family moved to North Carolina to photograph Hispanic immigration in the South. In 2005, the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) through the support of the Ford Foundation and JP Morgan Chase awarded he and his wife, Anne, partial funding to create the photography/oral history project “Land of Opportunity: Latino Entrepreneurs of North Carolina.”

Today, he tours the country with his work, inspiring audiences with his life stories with "Shine," a presentation that evokes his beginnings as a shoeshine boy. 

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