Jana Birchum, Photo & Video
The Crew

12th & Chicon

For many years I worked on an AIDs outreach van at the corner of 12th & Chicon in East Austin. The corner was the highlight of our week, with an ever-changing parade of people and activities that could at minimum be called “lively”. It served as the heart of drug dealing and prostitution, as well as a quiet residential area of historically Black-owned homes. Today, gentrification has accomplished what police raids and community planning couldn’t–12th & Chicon has once again become a shopping and social district. But today the crowds tend more toward white and hipster than black and poor. This essay was done during the last days of what I believed would always be the reality of 12th & Chicon.

Trio

Street Kids

Another community which has fascinated me is the traveling gutter punks, or street kids, who populate The Drag, the area across the street from the University of Texas campus. These kids were like the opposite of those across the street: they rarely worked, except to sell drugs; had no home by choice, living on the streets or squatting in abandoned buildings; travelled extensively, hitchhiking or hopping trains; and created a small, insular culture in which freedom was the only real value. They often died young.

Long Term AIDs Survivor Gary Cooper and His Partner Richard

Long-Term AIDs Survivors

AIDs was the defining event in the lives of gay people of a certain age. From the scare of not knowing what was happening, through the deaths of the plague years, to newer treatments and services, I was curious about the lives of people who survived the plague, and now live with HIV as a normal way of life.

Robert Miljenovich Detective in the Human Trafficking Division

Workers Combatting Human Trafficking

As part of an on-going project, I have been producing portraits of the people who work together to fight human trafficking in my city. This includes activists, survivors, and police and court officials.

Gaila's Breast Cancer

Gaila’s Breast Cancer

I was contacted by a friends who’s closest friend had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Did I want to document her journey? I did.

So I met Gaila and followed her through her first stages of medical intervention: diagnoses, testing, surgery. She then opted not to follow Western medical practice, and use natural methods of treatment. She also chose to do that in private, without a camera present. This is from our time together.

Prison Moms

Prison Moms

In Texas, women who give birth while incarcerated have very little time with their newborn babies. For three days following the birth, the mothers are allowed to spend one hour a day with their child. After three days the babies are sent home to the family or placed in foster care. This is one of those one-hour visits.

Women's Professional Football: The Austin Outlaws

Women’s Professional Football: The Austin Outlaws

Austin had it’s first professional football team in a surprising form: women’s football. This is a game in their first season.

Women's Professional Football: The Austin Outlaws

Women’s Professional Football: The Austin Outlaws

Austin had it’s first professional football team in a surprising form: women’s football. This is a game in their first season.