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Saturday, April 11, 2009


Here's a pretty high profile photo project worth having a look at. I especially like the local level aspect of taking it into the classrooms and getting the kids involved at a hands-on level.


NEW YORK; MARCH 9, 2009 USA Network announces the launch of Character Project, an ongoing artistic initiative to celebrate the extraordinary people, from all walks of life, who make this country unique. Inspired by USA's iconic "Characters Welcome" brand, and with the support of the not-for-profit photography organization Aperture Foundation, USA assembled a team of 11 world-class photographers to capture the character of America during the summer of 2008. The artists' work will be showcased in the powerful photography book entitled American Character: A Photographic Journey, published by Chronicle Books. The book will be available beginning March 17 in retailers across the country and internationally, as well as at and other major online outlets.

Featuring each photographer's provocative perspective on our nation's most compelling characters, American Character celebrates the continuously-evolving mosaic of our country. The photographs from the book will be on display in a touring exhibition, co-hosted by Vanity Fair, beginning in New York City Thursday March 12 and visiting six additional cities: Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Character Project photography will additionally be featured in a national print, on-air and out-of-home campaign including a 12-page insert in the April issue of Vanity Fair.

The foreword for American Character: A Photographic Journey was written by best-selling author and former "NBC Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw. Having experienced the innumerable facets of American character throughout his career, Brokaw brings his worldly voice to the introduction of the book. "I'm thrilled to work with USA on Character Project and to write the foreword for American Character: A Photographic Journey," says Brokaw. "This book is a fascinating study of and tribute to the mosaic of modern American character. From Alaska to New York City, you will see the changing face of a nation."

Character Project Photographers

The Character Project Photographers include legendary artists Mary Ellen Mark and Sylvia Plachy as well as Dawoud Bey, Jeff Dunas, David Eustace, Eric Ogden, Marla Rutherford, Anna Mia Davidson, Joe Fornabaio, Eric McNatt and Richard Renaldi. In an effort to create a thoughtful depiction of American character, USA allowed the contributors uncensored creative freedom to interpret the subject through their own eyes. Each photographic essay showcases a range of characters from musicians and local heroes to farmers and patriots, photographed at home, at work and at play in big cities and small towns across the country. Film for many of the eleven projects was kindly provided by Kodak.

Dawoud Bey: Photographed a diverse cross-section of young Americans near Chicago's Columbia College where he has taught for many years.

Anna Mia Davidson: Photographed portraits of sustainable farmers in Washington State.

Jeff Dunas: Shot a color series in and around Los Angeles documenting the American summer experience.

David Eustace: Shot portraits and landscapes as he traveled along the entirety of Route 50, one of the oldest transcontinental roads, stretching over 3000 miles from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

Joe Fornabaio: Photographed individuals at barbershops and salons in the New York metro area in order to capture characters engaged in a classic American ritual the haircut.

Mary Ellen Mark: Documented festivals, parades and summer traditions in one of her favorite places to photograph: New York City.

Eric McNatt: Photographed the "wild and wooly, quiet and intense, quirky and idiosyncratic spirit" of his hometown, Brownwood, Texas.

Eric Ogden: Shot portraits of captivating and charismatic American musicians who all hail from Michigan, including Iggy Pop, Andrew W.K., Bootsy Collins, Deastro, Andre Williams, and Detroit Cobras.

Sylvia Plachy: Captured the "spirit of the South" through a series of portraits and panoramas in Mississippi.

Richard Renaldi: Photographed the character of Alaska on its 50th anniversary as a US state.

Marla Rutherford: Shot portraits of individuals from around Los Angeles who had never before been professionally photographed.

A Celebration of Character in Local Communities

As part of a community affairs outreach program, USA Network will bring Character Project and the book to life on the local level via the following:

Character Project Local Curriculum: USA Network partnered with local educators to create a companion curriculum targeting high school students. The initiative includes character-themed lesson plans that consist of three individual yet complementary sections: Character, Connection and Capture. Each section will offer a variety of activities, including writing, reading, discussion and experiential, all of which will encourage students through self-reflection and discovery to consider the role "character" plays in their personal lives and within their communities. The study also offers tips for the students to create their own Character Project. The curriculum will be available online at and will meet national standards for education in English, Literature and Art.

Digital Photography Contest: High school students within each local market have the opportunity to submit photos that capture "characters" in their own city, neighborhood or school. USA Network will provide a "contest kit," which will be distributed by local cable partners throughout the school district. Winners will be selected based on based on originality, creativity and presentation. Local winners will meet a featured photographer and have their photos displayed at the Character Project exhibition in their market and on the Character Project website. Additionally, winners will receive a digital camera and a grant to support arts education in his or her school.

Field Trips to Local Exhibitions: As an overlay to the photography contest, up to three local high school classes will have the opportunity to attend their local Character Project exhibition. Students will have the chance to participate in a question and answer session with the Character Project artists.

For more information on the project, go to the official website at

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