“Faces of Asheville” artist burglarized

The Faces of Asheville project, which sought to get portraits of 100 of the city’s most unique people, faces a major setback after local photographer and artist Jenny Bowen‘s Montford home was burglarized. On Aug. 18, her studio was ransacked and her equipment stolen.

De-faced: Local artist and photographer Jenny Bowen, whose house was burglarized Aug. 18, jeopardizing her “Faces of Asheville” photo project. photo by Jonathan Welch

“The project was trying to capture the different faces of life in this city, to show how incredibly diverse and amazingly creative Asheville is. I asked people to bring one item with them [to be photographed with] that showed their own creativity,” Bowen says. “I came home Sunday night to find my house burglarized, the studio destroyed, [and] my cameras gone, along with the external hard drive the photos were stored on. Besides that equipment, the only things taken were some bauble jewelry and some pocket change.”

However, Bowen says that “after about two days of moping, I’m ready to continue. All good art involves some suffering, but what defines great art is persistence. The outpouring of the support from the community here has been amazing. That’s strengthened my resolve to make it bigger and better.”

To that end, Bowen will try to get grants and donations for the new project in the coming months.

“This has delayed me by about a year,” she says. “But I’ve already learned so much from this experience. It will be even better this time around.”

Bowen had taken portraits of 108 people already, with “just a few left to take this week” for her project, she reports. After the burglary, she has only about 30 portraits left.

Bowen has filed a police report and informed pawn shops in the area. The burglar took a 8-megapixel Canon Digital Rebel XT camera with a silver body and no lens, along with a 4-gigabyte memory card containing about 20 people’s photos. The hard drive had 120 gigabytes of storage. The burglars left the camera cords.

“They can’t charge them or get any photos off the camera—these were some really stupid thieves,” Bowen observes.

In the meantime, Bowen might try to do a smaller exhibition with the remaining photos, possibly at the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival in September.

Her plans for the project include a book and an exhibit, along with donating the photos to the Asheville city archives. “We’re at a cusp in the city’s history here—and I wanted to do a social documentary of that,” she says.

Anyone with any information about the robbery or the equipment can contact the Asheville Police Department at 252-1110. Bowen can be contacted at docjen@gmail.com or 423-5673.

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