Ron Tarver

Solo Exhibition Award Winner

Ron Tarver (born Fort Gibson, OK; lives Philadelphia, PA) holds a BA in Journalism and Graphic Arts from Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, OK and an MFA from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA. He is Visiting Assistant Professor of Art specializing in photography at Swarthmore College. For 32 years, Tarver worked as a photojournalist at The Philadelphia Inquirer where he shared a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for his work on a series documenting school violence in the Philadelphia public school system. He had been nominated three previous times. His photographs have been published in numerous periodicals, including Black & White Magazine, Life, Time, National Geographic, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated. He is co-author of the book We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans (New York: Harper Collins, 2004), which was accompanied by a traveling exhibition that debuted at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Tarver has exhibited nationally and internationally in over 30 solo and 50 group exhibitions. His photographs are found in many private, corporate and museum collections, including the State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg; Studio Museum, New York; Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma City; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Tarver’s additional accolades include a Pew Fellowship in the Arts as well as fellowships from the Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Independence Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Statement from the Artist:
Throughout the last 30 years, my photography has explored many facets of the African American community. My current work is an extension of and expansion on this trajectory, adding to the collected journal of the African American experience in this country. It involves the appropriation of photographs my father, Richard Tarver, produced in the 1940s and 50s to construct contemporary images that comment on the pervasive legacy of racial strife in this country. The more than 300 photographs and over 1,000 African American and white negatives he produced of the African American residents in the small Oklahoma town of Fort Gibson represent a time when Jim Crow laws were still in place. While those laws have since been abolished, their legacy lives on. These reimagined images engage a troubling past with an equally problematic present.

Ron Tarver: An Overdue Conversation With My Father, on view at The Print Center January 17 – March 13, 2020