Robin Bowman, a 2005 W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fellow has been working as a freelance photojournalist for 28 years, documenting the most poignant international social and political issues of our time. After earning a degree in anthropology at Wheaton College, she embarked on an independent study of photography, including a year at the Maine Photographic Workshops (1982-1983). It was subsequent work in the offices of the renowned Magnum Photos, however, that led her to become a professional photographer.
Since then, Bowman’s photographs have appeared in publications worldwide, including The New Yorker, Life, Time, Newsweek, People and the German Stern, among others, demonstrating her fierce commitment to creating concern for the human condition by covering major upheavals and the aftermath of crises in an attempt to understand how such things come to pass. Her coverage has included: “The Fate of the Missing in Guatemala,” “The Fight Against Child Abuse in America,” “Scars of War” in Uganda. “Life after Genocide” in Rwanda”. Bowman also spent six years living on and off with the Subcommandante Marcos and the Zapatista National Liberation Army in the jungles of Chiapas, Mexico.
Her latest book “It’s Complicated: The American Teenager” (Umbrage, Nov. 2007), which won the Best Photography Book of the 2008 Independent Book Publishers Awards and was named as one of the top ten books for young people by the YALSA, a division of the American Library Association, pairs portraits and stunningly candid interviews made over a period of five years with over 400 teens around the U.S. The entire collection of 263 portraits and transcripts was recently purchased by the New York Public Library for its permanent collection, with the intention of mounting an exhibition. The NYPL’s curator of photography has compared the collection to the Depression Era documentary work of the legendary WPA and FSA. MacArthur Fellow and Pulitzer-prize winning author, Kate Boo, describes it best when she writes that Bowman’s “camera seems to listen, and the faces she captures with it sing.”
Bowman, a speaker at the Ideas Boston 2008 conference, has been honored with two International Photography Awards for the American Teenager project, including first place in the People/Culture category and second place in the Fine Art/ Documentary category. Today, her photographs are part of the International Polaroid Collection, from whom she has also received a number of grants. A solo exhibition of selected work from the “It’s Complicated” book was mounted at the Catherine Edelman Gallery in January 2009.
While shooting “It’s Complicated,” Bowman headed the photography department at Friends Seminary in Manhattan for two years. Since then she has been using the social justice issues raised by “It’s Complicated” as a springboard to promote tolerance and social awareness for students and teachers.
Robin lives in Brooklyn, NY with her beloved dog, Ferdinand.
Julia Hollinger grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and credits her involvement with Huron High School’s inaugural Understanding and Sharing Diversity Program with shaping her early appreciation for the complex history of race and inequality in the United States. Julia’s experience in this program as a high school sophomore shaped her continuing commitment to creating spaces in our communities where people can come together to forge connections across difference and collectively seek a more humane and inclusive world. Because of this experience, and those since, Julia is a steadfast supporter of youth centered programs that challenge young people to think outside the box and develop a sense of compassion for others, which they can then carry with them throughout their lives.
Julia got her BA in American History from Wesleyan University in 1994 and her Masters in Teaching from Simmons College in 1997. Among the schools she has taught at since are the Hyde School in Bath, Maine, Somerville High School in Somerville, MA, Piedmont High School in Piedmont, CA, Friends Seminary High School in New York, NY and most recently at Leadership Public School in Richmond, CA where she served as Academic Dean in a significant turn around effort for this small, college-preparatory urban charter school.
Julia is a facilitator for A Place in the World, a youth outreach program run by the California Film Institute. She created and ran the Finding Community Program at Piedmont High School and has helped found the Gay/Straight Alliance and Peer Listening programs at several schools. She served on the Board of Directors for DiversityWorks in Oakland, CA and is the co-writer and producer of the narrative film Treading Water (2001).
She currently lives in Oakland, CA with her wife and three children and is working hard to ensure the success and longevity of The American Teenager Project.