Local photographer and artist Jenny Bowen‘s home studio was burglarized in August, putting the future of her “Faces of Asheville” project—an effort to get portraits of 100 of the city’s most unique denizens—in doubt, as the thieves destroyed her lights and stole the camera and computer she’d been using for the project.
Now, just more than four months later, an outpouring of local support has enabled the project to not just continue but to be even grander in scope and scale this time.
“The community really came through,” Bowen says. “A lot of [people] started calling me, offering their support. I started getting checks in the mail, getting cash donations from people who had participated.”
Kitty Love, organizer of the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival (and one of the Bowen’s portrait subjects), arranged a silent auction for the photographer at this year’s festival. It raised $1,200 and boosted the project’s fortunes, allowing Bowen to get a new camera and lenses.
Support kept coming. The Asheville Area Arts Council gave Bowen an $800 grant and the Wedge Gallery has provided studio space.
Now she’s ready to roll again. Bower just launched a revamped Web site (www.facesofasheville.com), which includes some of the surviving earlier portraits, the story of the project and a long list of people Bowen thanks for their support. This time, people will apply online to be included, and shoots will begin Jan. 15. She hopes to have them wrapped up by April.
Bowen has big plans for the portraits, including a gallery show for next December and a possible self-published book. She still plans to donate the portraits to the city’s historical archives.
“The book is something a lot of people requested—so I’m going to self-publish a few copies and see how it does,” she told Xpress.
Bowen still needs donations, she said, especially to get new lights and other equipment that’s needed. She also has plans to take many, many more portraits this time.
“I’m readying for up to 500, but I’m not turning anyone away,” she pledges. “I’m amazed at how supportive Asheville has been—and I’ve been amazed at how many people want to be a part of this.”