Artist Biography

For over forty years I have collaborated on photography projects with children, families, women, workers and teachers. I’ve worked in the United States, Labrador, Colombia, India, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Holland, Mexico and Tanzania.  My projects start as documentary investigations and move on to probe questions of identity and cultural differences.

In my work with children and women I encourage them to use cameras to look at their own lives, their families and their communities, and to make images of their fantasies and dreams.  While making my own photographs in the communities, I ask my collaborators to alter my images by drawing or writing on them, challenging the concept of who actually makes the image – who is the photographer, who is the subject, who is the observer and who is the observed.  My work questions the conventional definition of individual authorship and casts into doubt an artist’s intentions, power and identity.

I have also created many projects with students from elementary school through college.  The projects are designed as interventions as well as artistic projects.  Among them are American Alphabets, a series of photo installations made with Arabic, Spanish and English speakers; On Reading, a video installation with learning disabled students, and Who Am I in This Picture, a public art installation with faculty, staff and students at Amherst College. 

With each situation, I use different processes and materials to shift my point of view and engage with my subjects.  My work may be understood as a kind of conceptual art focused on expanding the role of esthetic discourse in pedagogy and creating a new concept of imagery that challenges the viewer to see beneath the surface of relationships. 


B.A. (Art) Antioch College, 1974
Course work with Minor White, MIT, 1971–1973

Teaching Positions

Senior Fellow, Vera List Center for Arts and Politics, New School for Social Research, 2000–2003
Artist-in-Residence/Research Scholar, Duke University Center for International Studies, 1998–present
Senior Research Scholar, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University, 1991 - 2010
Visiting Associate Professor, Bard College, 1996
Fulbright Fellow and photography instructor, Raquira, Colombia, 1982


Anonymous was a Woman Award, 2015
Guggenheim Fellowship, 2012
Visionary Woman Award, Moore College of Art and Design, 2010
Honored Educator of the Year from the Society for Photographic Education’s Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regions, 2007
Honorary Doctorate, Bank Street College of Education, 2005
MacArthur Fellowship, 1992
Fulbright Fellow, Colombia, 1982
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) fellowship, 1988

Distinguished Lectures

Salzburg Global Seminar, Colby College Bicentennial Distinguished Lecture, 2013
Nelson Fund for Social Justice Lecture, Portland Art Museum, 2006
The Syracuse Symposium 2005: Borders, Rapaport Lecture in Contemporary Art, 2005
University of Rhode Island Distinguished Scholar Lectures, 2001
John Landrum Bryant Lecture at the Harvard School of Education, 1999
Townsend Humanities Center Residency and Lecture, University of California, 1998


This Place, Brooklyn Museum, New York City, 2015

Making Models: The Collaborative Art of Wendy Ewald, Melbourne Festival, Center for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, Australia, 2013

Pictures Woke People Up: An Innu Project with Wendy Ewald and Eric Gottesman: Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts, 2012

Amherst College Portraits: Collaborations with Wendy Ewald and Brett Cook Mead Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, 2007

On Reading: John Hope Franklin Center, Duke University, North Carolina, 2006

American Alphabets Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts, Eli Marsh Gallery Amherst College, Massachusetts, 2006

Towards the Promised Land: Margate, UK, 2005–2006

Secret Games: Fotomuseum Witherthur, Switzerland; Museet for Photokunst, Odense, Denmark; Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland; Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Kansas; Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, Rhode Island; Corcoran Gallery of American Art, Washington, D.C.; Queens Museum of Art, Queens, NY; High Museum, Atlanta, Georgia; University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky; Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York; Moore College of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2000–2010

Retratos y Sueños: Photographs by Mexican Children: International Museum of Photography and Film, George Eastman House, Rochester, New York; Ansel Adams Center for Photography, San Francisco; Notre Dame University, Illinois; Center for Creative Photography, Tucson; Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, 1993–1994

Portraits and Dreams: Southern Arts Federation tour; Southern U.S., Side Gallery (Newcastle, UK) 1985–1987

Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition tour to U.S. Museums, 1979–1983

Portraits and Dreams, International Center of Photography, New York, 1978


This is Where I Live (MACK, 2015)

The Transformation of this World Depends on You, with Thomas Keenan, Martha Saxton, and Fazal Sheikh (Steidl, 2014) 

Wendy Ewald: A Case Study (Portland State University, 2018)  

Literacy and Justice through Photography: A Classroom Guide, with Katie Hyde and Lisa Lord (Teachers College Press, 2013) 

Who Am I in This Picture: Amherst College Portraits, with Brett Cook (Amherst College Press, 2009)

Towards A Promised Land (Steidl, 2006)

American Alphabets (Scalo, 2005)                       

In Peace and Harmony: Carver Portraits (Hand Workshop, 2005)

The Best Part of Me: Children and the Body (Little, Brown & Co., 2001)                       

Secret Games: Wendy Ewald Collaborative Works 1969-1999 (Scalo, 2001) 

I Wanna Take Me a Picture: Teaching Photography and Writing to Children (Beacon Press, 2001) 

I Dreamed I Had a Girl in My Pocket (W.W. Norton, 1996)

Magic Eyes: Scenes from an Andean Girlhood (Bay Press, 1992)

Portraits and Dreams: Photographs and Stories of Children of the Appalachians (Writers & Readers, 1985) 

Appalachia: A Self-Portrait (Gnomon Press, 1981)