TRENTON – Balancing tragedy and sadness with joy is the focus of “Murder in the 4-0,” an exhibit by former New York Times photojournalist Edwin J. Torres, at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG) Dec. 2 to Jan. 20..
An opening reception and artist talk will be held on Thursday, Dec. 12, from 5 to 7 p.m. at JKCG, located in MCCC's Trenton Hall, 137 North Broad Street in Trenton, across the street from the James Kerney Building. The event is free and open to the public.
“This show is actually two-bodies of work made simultaneously,” said Michael Chovan-Dalton, JKCG Director. “One was assigned and the other was done for personal reasons. It is a great example of how powerful the photographic document still is in shaping our perception of place and people.”
Torres notes that while he was working for the New York Times, he was assigned a year-long project documenting how crime persisted in New York City in spite of record low crime rates. The project required him to document each and every homicide in the neighborhood where he grew up, a task that took an emotional toll.
“It was a long, dark and heavy year,” Torres said. “I witnessed too many tragic moments. My job was to document people at their worst.”
While his job was to document the tragedy, Torres said that for his own benefit, he chose to balance the bad with the good. And what he found was encouraging and uplifting: the community continued to carry on, with moments that ranged from the ordinary to the extraordinary, even in the shadow of hardship.
“My coping mechanism was a way for me to engage with the community in a positive way,” Torres said. “I would frequent block parties, parks, or a normal scene by a bodega to document the everyday. In this way I worked to empower others and make them laugh or smile.”
When his project for the Times was finished, Torres found that both bodies of work, together, told a compelling story, even though separately, they were in sharp contrast. But both come together in “Murder in the 4-0.”
“This show gave me the opportunity to step back and look at both bodies of work as complementary components that depict a very real New York,” Torres said. “It calls on the importance of representation in visual storytelling.
“Where we see one perspective there is always another side. This show for me is about coping and balancing the good and the bad in the pursuit of truth. “
A resident of Trenton, Torres is an award-winning photographer who currently serves as the Deputy Digital Director for the New Jersey Governor's Office. Before his work in government, Torres was a freelance photojournalist. In 2016, Torres was the lead photographer and contributed reporting in a Pulitzer Prize winning story with ProPublica and the New York Daily News. His work has also been published in the New York Times, Vice, The Atlantic, The American Prospect, and several other outlets. You can follow his work on Instagram @edwintorresphoto.
General JKCG hours are Monday and Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with evening hours Wednesday 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., or by appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about this show, JKCG, and other upcoming shows is available on the JKCG website at www.mccc.edu/jkcgallery.