Phonar// Assignment Three// Wendy Ewald



I was happy to receive an artist whom I knew nothing about this time. I have never heard of Ewald. She’s very serious in her work and does a lot of documentary to show different types of community. It’s different to the contemporary, colour, hands on creative artist I’ve been looking for, but her assignment doesn’t limit me and I’m actually quite excited by it.

Task One

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Above is my initial tweets of which I thought represented Wendys assignment the best. However, I left it a couple of days to clear my head and when I re-read her brief, I found that I hadn’t used the most important points that Wendy gave me. So, I decided to retweet these, mainly because I know others will be looking at my tweets for advice and inspiration, so I didn’t want to guide them in the wrong direction. Below is my new and more accurate set of tweets.

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Task Two- A Portrait of Wendy Ewald

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Learning about Ewald has completely inspired me. She appears to me to have a heart of gold.

Brief Research:

-Born 1951, an American photographer and educator

-Rather than taking the images herself, she involves her sitters to learn photography. She teaches each community

-She has had solo exhibitions in places such as New York, Switzerland and Winterthur

Photograph projects/ series


-Gets children to take a self-portrait

-Writes on the images, meaning there is a controversy to who owns the image

-Documentary and Socially engaged art

-Most well known collaborative work Dixon and Shepard

This is Where I Live

-Ewald gives children and adults photographic skills, as she believes they know their community the best, where the best and most important images can be taken

-She also does this because she believes there composition represents the location, rather than an “art school approach”

-Worked mainly with two schools for this project- they showed a focus/ importance on colour and food

-There was between 50-100,000 images, which Ewald edited down herself

-Fourteen different projects in total

The Best Part of Me

-Children take images of there body

-They then write why this is there favourite part of the body

-Its then somehow combined together to make one piece

Portraits and Dreams: A Revisitaion

-Looks back at images made in the 1970’s

-At a time when one third of children were living beyond poverty standards

-She gave 6-14 year old cameras to document their dreams, families and communities

-Going back to the project to explore the idea of ‘passage of time’

Instagram Post:


Wendy Ewald is someone who I, and others, aim to be. She definitely has a caring heart and has spent years working with children and adults in order to receive images, letting her view their world. Ewald takes time to work with her sitters and she spends months and years teaching them photography skills, and that’s incredibly admirable.

Her earliest work from the seventies is in monochrome. She cares a lot about skills, community and collaboration, so this is what I focused mostly on. Her most renowned and appreciated project, ‘Literacy through Photography’, focuses on the importance making images can have in the classroom. Her work has been experimented with in classrooms across the world, and can be undertaken by anyone, including yourself.

Task Three

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Task Three- Working in the style of Wendy Ewald

 Critical Analysis:

-Collaborates with her sitters

-Black and white

-Close-up portraits, often cropping the face

-She writes on the images (questioning authorship)

-Natural lighting

-The sitter takes the image and has any say over what face they say, where they take it and what they want to put on the image

-Does a series of images to show a larger narrative

 Reasons for her choosing the assignment:

-Interest in others

-Inspiring working with different people- there are no limits

-Everyone’s answers are different and exciting

-Its more that just aesthetics- we learn something peculiar about someone that we perhaps would think or wouldn’t ask someone else

-Its all about creativity and imagination

-There’s no fancy camera and its not about money, its about using the things surrounding us- this equals all of the sitters she works with

 How did I work in Ewald’s style?

For this I decided to focus on my peers, for Ewald focuses mainly on children but also on adults. I’m more interested in early twenties adults as it’s a time where your unsure of your age and how to be treated within society.

I chose two projects to experiment, just because these both really intrigued me and stood out to me and it’s a great opportunity to experiment. Firstly, ‘The Best Part of Me’, which I thought was such a sweet idea. Sometimes we allow our camera to capture such negativity, yet this project is all about positivity and the things we do like about ourselves, rather than don’t. For me it was interesting to see the reaction from the sitters. Ewald chose children who most likely are free with there bodies, yet mind had to think hard about the parts they did like, which is quite sad. But the answers I received were really meaningful and well thought out, something I didn’t expect.

The second project is ‘Portraits’, where Ewald got her sitters, again children, to take a portrait of themselves and then she would ask them something and get them talking. Afterwards she would write something that stood out to her on the image (negative). There are two things I really liked doing with these images. Firstly, using writing along with my photographs. I normally do this below an image on InDesign, but never on the image and it was created a clear difference of meaning and the relationship between the sitter and the image. Secondly, I love the issues surrounding whose image this is. The sitter has taken a self-portrait, yet Ewald has manipulated it, so there is no real dictation to whose this is.

Her work is new to me, yet I love her work and it reminds me a lot of Duane Michaels style. The way the sitter is involved is not something that interests me, yet I love the manipulation and concepts Ewald has. Her earliest work is in black and white, which isn’t something typical in my work yet I really like the tones and detail you can see.

I chose to present this on Instagram as individual images for two main reasons. Firstly, even though Ewald creates a collection of the same concept, she treats them as individual images. Secondly, rather than making them compact and loosing quality if they were a triptych I wanted the viewer to see the detail and most importantly be able to read the writing; of which I think is the most important thing to Ewald.

ScanScan 10Scan 1

Scan 9Scan 8Scan 7

Instagram post:

(I addressed the viewer as this is a collaboration concept, and the more people that undertake Ewald’s ideas, the more our knowledge of others will expand)

Working in the style of Wendy Ewald

In Ewald’s earlier projects, she worked in black and white, collaborating with her sitter. She collaborates in order to have an insight into a different society, which tended to be below poverty line, American, mixed race children.

This project is based on ‘Portraits’, which is all about listening to my sitter, they take the image and the photographer writes on top, questioning authorship. We can insight into not only what the sitter looks like directly, but a sight into more than just physical appearance.

Continue Ewald’s project for yourself and add to her archive informing others of your social and personal identity.

Working in the style of Wendy Ewald

In Ewald’s earlier projects, she worked in black and white, collaborating with her sitter. She collaborates in order to have an insight into a different society, which tended to be below poverty line, American, mixed race children.

This particular image is based on ‘The Best Part of Me’, which focuses on the positive aspects of what makes a person unique yet happy. As the sitter takes the image, Ewald chooses what part of the sitter’s conversation was interested and then writes it on herself, questioning authorship.

Continue Ewald’s project for yourself and add to her archive informing others of your social and personal identity.

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Task Four- Completing the assignment

When I was little I dreamt about two things. Firstly, being locked in a museum by myself, it wasn’t scare nor was it exciting. I was always just there surrounded by a Viking boat. The second, I was part of a statue. I presuming this was mainly due to watching something like Doctor Who, where you can be instantly zapped into a statue.

The second dream intrigues me. In the assignment it is unclear to me if Wendy means dreams as ambitions, or dreams as in when you sleep. So I decided to combine the two together, I personally believe this makes my idea and image stronger. So, I stuck with the second dream as its one that record to me many a times, whilst also being appropriate to me today. To have a statue made after you means that you’ve done something pretty impressive or you have had an impact on society. This contradicts my earlier dreams of being scared and not being able to move. I think this is so incredibly interesting to me, and statues have always appealed to me when I go and walk around gardens.

Ewald instructed me to think about using everyday objects. However, I got back into my child hood mind-set and thought about the everyday objects I would have as a child and one of them was plaster of Paris as I was very creative as a child. This is a perfect way to show my childhood as well as my dream.

Here’s the steps Ewald wants me to take:

Step one- talk about what these dreams and fantasies are (narrates some of the most memorable)

Step two- where did they come from

Step three- photographs this dream

Step One:

I firstly walk around a graveyard full of angels; I then get turned into stone like them. Sometimes I crack away, sometimes I cannot move.

Step Two:

These came from Doctor Who. I have never this programme before, or am a fan, particularly not after these dreams.

However, I want to take this idea of dreams further, as Ewald also mentions fantasies. These bad dreams can be turned into a positive. To become a statue means you have had either wealth or power over a society, or you have achieved something great. Wouldn’t it be an honour and an ambition to have a statue after I live? It means I’ve had an impact and a purpose to my life and others.

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250 Word Critical Rational

In the assignment, Ewald discussed ‘everyday objects can become magical totems’, and so I used plaster of Paris because this is something I loved and used often as a child. Even today it still fascinates me how you can craft it round a balloon and keep it forever, like the reoccurring dreams I’ve had in my life.

I focused on a triptych exploring not only a reoccurring dream I had as a child, but also an optimistic take on my nightmare, a reflection of my age. I chose to use my own hand writing on the image, because I have really appreciated how Ewald does this in her work, it makes the image tell a much more personal narrative. I used colour, because recently Ewald has been using colour and a digital format so I wanted to continue her new interests as so far I’ve focused on her earlier work.

I used a purple background specifically because when I researched further into dreams; purple is the colour that represents dreams and imagination. I also feel like it creates an aura, like it has a thoughtful and dream like atmosphere to it. I really like the final outcome, and you can instantly tell I’ve been inspired by Ewald. Its nice to know that something that scared me as a child, especially with my imagination running away with me, can become a positive now, I think it tells me something about myself.

My final Image:


Instagram Post:

Dreams- Wendy Ewald

What are your own dreams and fantasies?

#photographersplaybook #wendyewald #phonar2016

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Communication to my author

I decided to use handwriting in my piece as Ewald uses her own handwriting on top of her images. I also think its more personal and the way she works with people makes me feel like she likes to be personal. From my research, I also feel like its not the finer things in life, it’s the little things that she appreciates.

I used one of my images and blew it up to the size of one of her portraits. I then overlaid my letter to her. On the back of the letter/ piece I also included my own response as I think, I hope, she will be excited and appreciative to see it. Having no social media, I feel like she would like something physical a lot more, so that’s why I sent this letter/piece.



-Literacy Through Photography. (2009) Wendy Ewald. Available at []

-This Place. (2016) This Place: Wendy Ewald. Available at []

-Ewald, W. (2015) Wendy Ewald: This Is Where We Live. Available at []

-Art Angle. (2006) Wendy Ewald: Towards a Promised Land. Available at []


– Brooklyn Museum. (2016) This Place: Wendy Ewald, This Is Where I Live. Available at []

-University of California Television (2008) Conversations with History: Innocent Eye with Wendy Ewald. Available at []

-Garrison, A. (2010) Portraits and Dreams. Available at []


-Ewald, W. (2015) This is where I live. 1st Edition. London: Mack

-Turnbull, G.-R. (2015) Surface Tension: Navigating Socially Engaged Documentary Photographic Practices. Available at []


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