Born in Arizona and raised in New York City, Cheney Orr's first long-term photo essay documented his father’s journey with early-onset Alzheimer's and was published by The New York Times in 2018. Later that year he was awarded the Mary Ellen Mark Memorial Scholarship to attend the one-year certificate program at the International Center of Photography as a 2019 graduate. In 2020, Cheney was awarded a fellowship from the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation. Cheney was nominated as a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Feature Photography as a part of Reuters' 2021 coverage of climate change.
Cheney has reported from throughout the U.S. and is a regular contributor to Reuters and Bloomberg News. His other editorial clients include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Agence France-Presse. His commissioned work largely focuses on breaking news stories and his personal work is often focused on explorations of memory, family and community. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally. In 2014, he had a solo exhibition at The Ukrainian Institute of America displaying large-scale silver-gelatin prints from his project, A Future Uncertain: Young in Ukraine. In 2022, Superchief Gallery NFT in partnership with Vault by CNN was proud to present his solo exhibition "War Notes"; a project documenting civilians in Ukraine during the Russian invasion.
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"War Notes" chronicles Cheney Orr's travels over six weeks across Ukraine collecting a total of 51 portraits and interviews. Per participant, a single Fuji FP-100c polaroid was made. Orr then asked each participant to write their memories, experiences, thoughts, and emotions on a separate unexposed blank polaroid. Alongside these pieces, he collected audio, digital photographs, instax polaroids and 35mm black and white images. Each of the 51 portraits are paired with audio recordings of participant's voices and/or on-location ambient sounds.
The polaroid portraits and written stories were collected in a single photo album the artist carried with him throughout his experience. As a special release, Cheney Orr replicated this photo album as a limited-edition 'zine so the photos can be shared in a way that mimics the artist's process when the project was constructed.