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Returning to the South Bronx

Posted by on April 24, 2017 | Photographer Interviews, Student Photography

Photographer and recent Alexia Foundation grant recipient Sarah Blesener has continued to photograph her series about South Bronx teenager Chavi, which we first posted about here last August. Now a sophomore in high school, Chavi has remained close to his friends, and Blesener continues to document the strong bond they have whenever she is back in New York City. “My aim is to follow the boys until they graduate from high school, and to see how they develop individually and together as friends,” she explains. Having a personal project she has grown close to is “incredible,” she says.

Blesener is a graduate of the International Center of Photography in New York. Her other work includes topics such as patriotic youth programs in Russia and the new combat roles for women in the Ukranian military. Keep up with her @SarahBlesener on Instagram.

All photos © Sarah Blesener/Alexia Foundation

Chavier Leon, 15, a sophomore in high school, 6 February 2017, Mott Haven, South Bronx, New York.


Chavi and his friends meet to practice baseball outside of Yankee Stadium, 26 Mar 2017, Bronx, New York.


Edwin, Chavi, and Steven practice baseball in front of the Yankee Stadium, 26 March 2017, Bronx, New York. The friends meet weekly to practice at fields together.


Chavi Leon (15), a sophomore in high school, during spring break, 17 April 2017, Mott Haven, South Bronx, New York.


Chavi Leon and his family celebrate the 4th of July with their extended family at Crotona Park in the Bronx, New York. 4 July 2016.


Chavi Leon plays Barrabas in a Good Friday procession in his neighborhood of Mott Haven, in the South Bronx. 14 April 2017. Chavi and his family attend church at Saint Rita’s and are part of the Neocatechumenate Way, a charism within the Catholic Church.


Chavi Leon, Marco Vasquez and Edwin Amaro run from the playground to the building entrance of Chavi’s project apartment, South Bronx, 17 Feb 2016. New York.


Chavi Leon (15), a sophomore in high school, with his cousin Harold during spring break, 17 April 2017, Mott Haven, South Bronx, New York.


Chavi Leon with his friends in the apartment of his living room, 19 Feb 2016, Patterson Projects, South Bronx, New York City.


Chavi Leon and his niece, Jereline Rose Leon (2) at the Leon’s apartment, 22 Apr 2016, Patterson houses, Mott Haven, New York. Jereline’s father is living in the Dominican Republic, and Chavi’s remaining family takes care of her often.


Chavi (14) with his older brother, Chanel, in the Bronx, 16 June 2016. Chanel was recently released from prison, and is on house arrest while Chavi visits his apartment.


Professor Kim Cai directs a practice with students from the High School of Violin and Dance, 12 May 2016, Lehman College, Bronx, New York. Following practice, the students will perform their year-end concert for the public.


Chavi Leon (15) practices guitar in his living room, 6 Feb 2017, Mott Haven, southern Bronx, NY.


Edwin, Chavi and Juan in the hallway of the Patterson Projects on Juan’s 15th birthday, 16 Apr 2016, Mott Haven, South Bronx, New York.


Chavi and Edwin rest after playing video games at their friend Juan’s apartment, 16 Apr 2016, Mott Haven, southern Bronx, New York. Today is Juan’s 15th birthday, and they are waiting for the party to begin.