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Ron Tarver

Ron Tarver's long-term, ongoing project, The Long Ride Home: The Black Cowboy Experience in America, "comprises of photos exploring the lives of Black cowboys - men, women, and children. These are the multifaceted narratives intentionally forgotten in the great American myth of the West. From the concrete jungles of the Northeast to the endless skies of the great West, and all that lays in between, the cowboy spirit thrives. The portraits reaffirm this thriving culture of Black owned ranches, rodeo operations, parades, inner-city cowboys, retired cowhands and young rodeo clowns. Few people are aware of the historical role that Black cowboys have played in the West, while still others question their authenticity." - Ron Tarver

The Double Dutch series was originally published as a photo essay in the Philadelphia Inquirer on May 15, 1988. They collectively offer a "snapshot" of the Diamonettes, a gravity-defying double-dutch team from North Philadelphia whose ages range from grade-school girls to teenagers. The team carries the enduring legacy of Black girlhood. 

Tarver's Land, Sea, Air series explores the wide-ranging system of wetlands in the US National Wildlife Refuge. It depicts the coast of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. This Refuge protects more than 47,000 acres of southern New Jersey coastal habitats which is actively managed for migratory birds. The refuge’s location in one of the Atlantic Flyway’s most active flight paths makes it an important link in seasonal bird migration.  Through his elegantly rendered naturalistic photos that verge on abstraction, Tarver investigates the delicate nature of the ecosystem, the government's precarious conservation policies, and our relationship to these unique spaces. 

Havana: A Place Out of Time is a body of toned silver gelatin prints that "attempt to reveal what is beneath the contradiction: the place boiled down to its essentials offering a different interpretation of the city. One that creates a sense of poetry and wonder. And like the city itself, conjures more questions than answers. Havana is lethargically energetic, immaculately filthy, an illusive illumination. It is a wonderful contradiction. For every answer given to explain Havana, there are dozen more questions. It is a society held together by ingenuity, floating on an outdated dream." - Ron Tarver

Tarver is an Associate Professor of Studio Art specializing in Photography at Swarthmore College. He previously served as staff photographer at the Philadelphia Inquirer for 32 years where he shares a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for his work on a series documenting school violence in the Philadelphia public school system and was nominated for a second Pulitzer in 2013 for a series exploring dog-training programs in prisons.

A recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, Tarver has also received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Independence Foundation. He was named one of the Delaware Valley's "50 Rising Stars in the Arts" by Seven Arts Magazine and has also been a Center for Emerging Visual Artists Fellow. Tarver's work has appeared in National Geographic, Life, Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, and Black and White Magazine. He is co-author of the book We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans, published by Harper Collins in 2004, which was accompanied by a traveling exhibition.

His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in over 30 solo and 50 group exhibitions and is included in many private, corporate, and museum collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, the Oklahoma Museum of History, the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art, and the National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution.

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