Lecture: «The American Public Library: A Photographic Essay»
Robert Dawson has long been interested in how photography can be used to understand our relationship with the environment and the commons. He is also interested in photography’s ability to shape public awareness and understanding of the place we call home.
Mr. Dawson’s photographs have been recently recognized by a Guggenheim Fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, an Artists Grant from the Graham Foundation and many other awards. He also served as a Panelist for the Visual Arts Fellowship in Photography for the National Endowment For the Arts in Washingto, D.C.
Mr. Dawson’s photographs have been widely exhibited and are in the permanent collections of many institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Museum of American Art, (Smithsonian Institution) Washington, DC; the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Center For Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson; the Library of Congress, Washington, DC; the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris: and the Carpenter Center For the Visual Arts at Harvard University.
Mr. Dawson received his B.A. from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1972 and his M.A. from San Francisco State University in 1979. Dawson served as a member of the Board of Directors of San Francisco Camerawork and later of the Friends of Photography. He is a founding member and continues to serve on the Board of PhotoAlliance. He has been an Instructor of Photography at San Jose State University since 1986 and an Instructor of Photography at Stanford University since 1996.
His first book, Robert Dawson Photographs was published by Min Gallery in Japan (1988). The Great Central Valley: California’s Heartland by Robert Dawson, Steve Johnson and Gerald Haslam was published by the University of California Press (1993) and was listed as one of the best books of the year by the New York Times. An exhibit sponsored by the California Academy of Sciences toured the state for three years.
Most recently, Princeton Architectural Press published Dawson’s book The Public Library: A Photographic Essay (2014). This was a culmination of an eighteen-year photographic survey of the essential role of public libraries thoughout the United States. The book contains fifteen essays by writers such as Amy Tan, Anne Lamott, Charles Simic, Barbara Kingsolver, Philip Levine, etc. In 2015, the Library of Congress purchased the entire Public Library project archive for their permanent collection.
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