Cesar Melgar

As the Covid-19 health crisis continues, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is working on ways to bring art to you at home, virtually. This is another installment of our ongoing series we call Cabin Fever Artist Talks. For these, we’ve asked artists to tell us a little about themselves and their work. In some cases, they’ll be answering questions provided by the Art Center. In others, they’ll be showing us around their studio or highlighting works in progress.

For this edition, we hear from photographer Cesar Melgar. Melgar was born in Newark, NJ, and raised in the Ironbound section, a working-class neighborhood. This upbringing as a child of first-generation immigrants from Colombia and Peru influences his eye as he turns his lens onto his community that has faced environmental injustice, disinvestment, and now the force of gentrification. His photos capture the poetic nuances of daily life in a city that is often misunderstood by New Jersey’s suburbs and beyond, and especially the media. In 2015, Cesar Melgar was introduced to the world in a debut interview by the Design Observer, a prestigious magazine devoted to a range of design topics such as urbanism and social innovation. Cesar has exhibited his work in all of the major galleries and institutions in Newark. He is a contributing photographer for the International Society of Biourbanism based in Rome. His photographs are showcased in his debut photo book, Street Views, designed by John Foster in 2018. As of 2019, he completed his first residency in Artena, Italy, immersing himself in the community and making images. In 2020, he self-published a zine containing photos he made of Newark during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, which was included in a New York Times article featuring Newark’s creative community. Cesar has also been a guest speaker for colleges across the US. His images are in multiple private collections.

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