Photo Show Live with Wendy Ewald

MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowship awardee Wendy Ewald virtually visits with Michael Chovan-Dalton to talk about Wendy’s books, The Devil is Leaving His Cave, recently published by MACK and the expanded reissue of Portraits and Dreams, also published by MACK. We talk about Wendy’s interest in collaboration and how you have to let go of some of your expectations.


Photo Show Live is sponsored by the Charcoal Book Club

About Wendy Ewald:
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.