“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 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 docjen@gmail.com or at 423-5673.

— David Forbes, staff writer

Image above is Faces of Asheville project logo


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6 thoughts on ““Faces of Asheville” artist burglarized

  1. zen

    Man i am so sorry this happened. While i didn’t get by to be photographed, i was following what Jenn was doing with interest. My heart goes with you.

  2. I would just like to thank the community for the warm support at this time of slight despairity. Loosing all the man hours, supplies, and stunning portraits of *amazing* individuals is definitely devastating on a level. I am thankful in the fact that the burglary could have been much worse and no one was harmed physically.

    However, as I told David Forbes, the process of meeting everyone and learning about our community, hearing what individuals feel towards our city and each other created a personal inspirational sub-product. I gained so much knowledge in what makes this city truly beautiful – not just the mountains and art deco architecture – but the people. The bright shining talented souls who really are conscious and hopeful about a brighter future. My goal was to share this observation with the whole of Asheville and I will still follow through on this endeavor.

    I am going to go at this project again… though now starting from scratch I will have to climb all the way back up the proverbial mountain. There is a miracle of a chance my stolen items & data may re-appear. But if not I will save to get a new camera and start seeking sponsorships, grants, and gifts from philanthropists to do a bigger and better do-over of the project that will involve as many Ashevillian’s as possible.

    There is a uniquely beautiful purpose to the project and it deserves to be shared. Like any artist – I have learned that life will toss you around from time to time and that the difficult suffering can give heart to the art. But like any *good* artist – I have learned that a persistent passion is what will get me (and the art) to light at the end of the tunnel.

    Stay tuned for further details – and thank you all for being such beautiful Faces of Asheville.

    Love – n – Light,
    Jenny Bowen (.com)

  3. marissa

    i am simply amazed by jenny, who is a good and close friend of mine, for her ability to take such an unfortunate occurrence and turn it into a positive perspective.

    i only hope that she can continue with this project in the future!

  4. AnnRKey

    As a community performer with the Feral Chihuahuas sketch comedy troupe, as well as proud participantsin this project, we are devastated to hear the news. What a selfless and important thing Jenny is trying to do. What an odd world we live in that shameless acts of vandalism go unnoticed in our community. This will NOT go unnoticed Jenny. People know about this. People want to see you get your belongings back. This is a pretty small town. I’m just hoping they’re stupid enough to get caught. Thanks for all your hard work. Think it not a fruitless trial, but more a strengthening exercise. We LOVE you, Jenny Bowen!


  5. Orbit DVD

    Jenny, I’m really sorry to hear about that. Let us know if we can help out!

    This is just an observation that might be totally unrelated to this burglary, but it seems that Montford is more crime ridden than other parts of town, even “Worst Asheville.” We’ve had more friends robbed, burglared and beaten in Montford than any other neighborhood. I think there’s a false sense of security there that you guys might want to be more on guard.


  6. Peter Lorenz

    This is so disappointing. I was looking forward to seeing Jenny’s final product.
    What a foolish move. That equipment is worth a paltry sum to a thief trying to fence it. Especially compared to the wealth of value it represents as tools for the creative.
    I agree with Marc. My brother was robbed a few days ago as well. We all need to lock up a lot tighter these day.

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