Karen first became interested in architectural photography when she graduated with a degree in interior design and worked for the largest commercial architecture firm in Brazil. Over time, she decided that telling stories through photography was more fulfilling, and she became a photojournalist. Karen is pursuing a career as a foreign correspondent along with her wife, Ariana. The two of them enjoy working together and traveling the world as often as business allows.
Karen worked as a primary heARTist for the first quarter of the CityHeART year. She will be telling the true story of addiction in Long Beach through the medium of photography in January-March, 2016.
Over the month of January, Karen went out with her wife, Ariana, and other CityHeART members to give sandwiches to the homeless and talk to them about dependency issues. The following photo series sold for $22.50 at Inspire Your Heart with Art, a live auction fundraising event for the first quarter of 2016.
THE COLD WAR: Steven James Peterson eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in Cesar E. Chavez Park near the Los Angeles River in downtown Long Beach Jan. 24, 2015. He said, “It was because of the Cold War.” Steven was friendly and eager to share his story.
ENVOY: MORE THAN JUST A CAR An Envoy is parked on W Sixth Street near the I-710 on the bike path that leads to the Los Angeles River Jan. 24, 2015. It appears that someone is living out of the SUV.
OPEN DOORS: A man sleeps with the driver’s side door open, maybe to keep from getting too hot Jan. 24, 2015. The man appears to live out of the Envoy, which is parked on W Sixth Street near the Los Angeles River. Pill bottles full of pills and one full of what look like joints lay on the windshield, on the dashboard and on the roof of the vehicle.
RODNEY, WHERE ARE YOU? A man pushes a grocery cart full of recyclable bottles and personal possessions on his way to go clean up for the day Jan. 24, 2015. Rodney was in a drug rehabilitation program, but showed up late one day, so they kicked him out, he said. He had nowhere else to go. Rodney agreed to meet with me and a few other City HeART members for an on-camera interview to talk about the broken criminal justice system, but when we came back, he was nowhere to be found.
I DON’T WANT NO SANDWICH: Three boys play on the bike path that leads to the Los Angeles River through a tunnel Jan. 24, 2015. Homeless people have set up tents and other hand-made shelters on either side. An adult was waiting for them in the park. The boys saw me and other City HeART members placing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in front of some tents and offered a sandwich to the boys, but they weren’t interested.
WELCOME HOME: Some of the housing in the homeless encampment are elaborate compared to other single tent set-ups. This outdoor house has separate rooms and is set up with cookware, a clock and laundry detergent Jan. 24, 2015.
TUNNEL VISION: Several people have constructed temporary housing on either side of the Los Angeles River bike path Jan. 24, 2015. Later, someone smoked what looked like crack from a tin can just outside the tent pictured here
More by Karen Sawyer for Addiction in Long Beach:
The streets of Downtown Long Beach are home for many.
Homeless man crosses the street in Downtown Long Beach on Valentine’s Day, 2016.
Izzy Matos, CityHeARTist, covers a homeless person with a blanket donated to CityHeART for the Valentine’s Day, 2016 blanket drive.
Homeless man sleeps outside Long Beach City Hall on Valentine’s Day, 2016.
CityHeART gives blankets away for Valentine’s Day, 2016.
(left to right) Sutton York, Ariana Sawyer, Kimberly Snyder, and PB Dolores pose for a picture with Rachel (center) in Lincoln Park on Valentine’s Day, 2016.
CityHeART brings food to the homeless encampments along the bed of the LA River.
Friendly guard dog sits watch outside of its owner’s tent along the LA River.
Arturo sits in his home for an interview with CityHeARTabout his experience with drug use and substance abuse.
Rodney promised to meet with CityHeART for an interview about his experience with rehab programs; he never showed up.
Three boys play beneath the freeway lining the LA River.
There are many homes beneath the freeway that lines the LA River.