The Faces of Asheville project, which sought to get portraits of 100 of the city’s most unique people, faces an uncertain future after local photographer and artist Jenny Bowen had her Montford home burglarized Sunday, her studio ransacked and her equipment stolen.
“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, 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.”
Bowen had taken portraits of 108 people already, with “just a few left to take this week,” she reports. After the burglary, she has only about 30 portraits left.
“The good majority of them are gone,” Bowen says, adding that she 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.
Now, Bowen says, it’s unlikely she can find the time to re-do the project.
“I took some time off from work in July to do this, I lost a lot of man hours,” she notes. “I’ve put a huge amount of effort into this over the last three months. If I got a camera within the next month, maybe I could do some of it, but there’s a lot that just can’t be repeated.”
“In the end, I feel the amazing process of doing this is worth more to me than the material product,” she says.
Bowen might try to do a smaller exhibition with the remaining photos “to get some part of this out there, but it won’t be possible to go all out like I’d planned.”
Her plans for the project had included a book and an exhibit, along with donated 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 this incident or the equipment can contact the Asheville Police Department at 252-1110. Bowen can be contacted at email@example.com or at 423-5673.
— David Forbes, staff writer
Image above is Faces of Asheville project logo