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Shawn Mortensen

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MORTENSEN, Shawn Shawn passed away on April 15th, 2009 after suffering complications from a long term illness. He was born November 14th, 1965 to John and Maureen Mortensen. He graduated from El Toro H.S. in 1984 and went on to Orange Coast C.C., and then to USC where he majored in art and film. Shawn was a Los Angeles based photographer, artist, director and activist. His iconic photographs have been exhibited at New York's Whitney Museum, The Guggenheim Museums and The J. Paul Getty Museum. He also won an MTV video music award. A global traveler, Shawn captured the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, MX; documented the dancehalls and shantytowns of Kingston, Jamaica, the people of Mongolia, Ethiopia, South Africa and Nigeria. Shawn simply didn't go to these far lands to take photographs, he was an activist. He was involved in AIDS awareness going to South Africa, Lagos and Nigeria to collaborate with the REDHOT organization, just one of the many organizations he helped. His photographs gave the subject a sense of dignity no matter who it was, be it a celebrity, a socialite or an AIDS orphan. That ability came from his incredible sense of humility. During his lifetime he completed two books, "It's My Life...Or It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time" published by BAPE Gallery/Bathing Ape in 2002 and his second book, "Out of Mind," published May 2007 by Harry N. Abrams. He was working on a third book about the Zapatista Movement since the movement's 1994 inception when he began documenting it. Always ahead of the curve. He is survived by his father John Mortensen, Central Point, OR; mother and stepfather Maureen and Hank Hilbun, Redmond, WA; brother and sister-in-law Chris and Ashley Mortensen, Anderson, SC; brother Joe Mortensen, Carlsbad, CA; sister Melissa Mortensen, Paris, FR as well as many aunts, uncles, cousins and countless friends, from all walks of life, the world over. At the request of his family, please do not send flowers. Instead, make any charitable donations to charities helping AIDS orphans in Africa and throughout the world. A celebration of Shawn's life will be held at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre, 1615 Vine St., Hollywood, CA from 7 p.m. to 12 midnight today, Thursday, April 23rd, 2009. ricardomontalbantheatre.info shawnmortensen.org
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Apr. 23, 2009
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