HAVEN (2016-2020)

Haven follows the stories of a group of teenage friends living in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx, centering on Chavi Leons, an aspiring musician. Haven documents Chavi from his freshman to senior year of high school, focusing on the surrogate family created by his neighborhood friends.

In the making of Haven, the group of boys were given disposable cameras and journals, in order to document their own families and thoughts throughout the collaborative project.

The South Bronx is famous for two reasons: it is home to the 15th Congressional District, the poorest district in the United States, and for its crime, made famous because of the 40th Precinct, a police precinct covering a two-square mile area at the southern most tip of the region. It is also ranked among the highest risk communities for children.


Chavi Leons is now 20-years old, pursuing his bachata music career in the Bronx, New York

Haven was photographed while Sarah Blesener was a student in the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism course at the International Center of Photography, completed with the support of the Alexia Foundation Student Grant. The project was exhibited at the International Center of Photography’s 2016 student exhibition entitled, Another Kind of Paradise. Haven was also exhibited at Auckland Festival of Photography in New Zealand, as well as a group exhibition with the Alexia Foundation at Photoville, New York.

Texts and Reviews:
Jacqui Palumbo, PDN, 2016
Alexia Foundation, 2016
Andrew Boryga, New York Times LENS, 2017
The American Scholar, 2017
Jacqui Palumbo, PDN, 2017