ROBERT DAWSON

About the Photographer

Robert Dawson has long been interested in how photography can be used to understand our relationship with the environment and the commons. He is also interested in photography’s ability to shape public awareness and understanding of the place we call home.

Dawson was recently awarded the 2018-2019 Fulbright Global Scholar award by the U.S. Department of State. Dawson's photographs have also been recently recognized by a Guggenheim Fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, an Artists Grant from the Graham Foundation and an Artists Grant from the Creative Work Fund. He has also received grant from a Visual Artists Fellowship from the National Endowment For the Arts, a Ruttenberg Fellowship from The Friends of Photography, a Photographer's Work Grant from the Maine Photographic Workshops, a James D. Phelan Award through the San Francisco Foundation, and a Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize from the Center For Documentary Studies at Duke University. He served as a Panelist for the Visual Arts Fellowship in Photography for the National Endowment For the Arts in Washingto, D.C.

Mr. Dawson's photographs have been widely exhibited and are in the permanent collections of many institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Museum of American Art, (Smithsonian Institution) Washington, DC; the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Center For Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson; the Library of Congress, Washington, DC; the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris: and the Carpenter Center For the Visual Arts at Harvard University.

Mr. Dawson was born in Sacramento, California in 1950. He received his B.A. from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1972 and his M.A. from San Francisco State University in 1979. Dawson served as a member of the Board of Directors of San Francisco Camerawork and later of the Friends of Photography. He is a founding member and continues to serve on the Board of PhotoAlliance. He was an Instructor of Photography at San Jose State University from 1986 to 2014. He is currently an Instructor of Photography at Stanford University since 1996.

His first book, Robert Dawson Photographs was published by Min Gallery in Japan (1988). The Great Central Valley: California's Heartland by Robert Dawson, Steve Johnson and Gerald Haslam was published by the University of California Press (1993) and was listed as one of the best books of the year by the New York Times. An exhibit sponsored by the California Academy of Sciences toured the state for three years.

Other projects include the Farewell, Promised Land Project with Gray Brechin. The book Farewell, Promised Land: Waking From the California Dream was published by the University of California Press (1999) in conjunction with a large exhibit at the Oakland Museum. This exhibit traveled throughout California for six years and was sponsored by the California Council For the Humanities. Another project was the Pyramid Lake Project with Peter Goin and Mary Webb. A book from this project, A Doubtful River, was published by the University of Nevada Press (2000). Dawson, along with his wife Ellen Manchester, is founder and co-director of the Water in the West Project, a large-scale collaboration with several other photographers. His work, along with others' from the project, was published in A River Too Far: The Past and Future of the Arid West (1991) and Arid Waters: Photographs From the Water in the West Project (1992). Both books were published by the University of Nevada Press. A large body of work from all the project members was collected by The Center For Creative Photography in Tucson as a permanent archive of the Water in the West Project.

Most recently, Princeton Architectural Press published Dawson's book The Public Library: A Photographic Essay (2014). This was a culmination of an eighteen-year photographic survey of the essential role of public libraries thoughout the United States. The book includes a forward by Bill Moyers and an afterword by Ann Patchett. The contains fifteen essays by writers such as Amy Tan, Anne Lamott, Charles Simic, Barbara Kingsolver, Philip Levine, etc. In 2015, the Library of Congress purchased the entire Public Library project archive for their permanent collection.
 

To purchase or ask questions about Robert Dawson's work please contact Scott Nichols Gallery at info@scottnicholsgallery.com. To contact Robert Dawson directly please email landscape@igc.org.

 

Selected Resume
SELECTED AWARDS, GRANTS AND FELLOWSHIPS
Fulbright Global Scholar award, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 2018-2019
Guggenheim Fellowship, Guggenheim Foundation, New York, NY 2014
Artists Grant, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago, IL 2013
Artists Grant, Creative Work Fund, San Francisco, CA 2013
James and Doris McNamara Fund, Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 2009 and 2010
Columbia Foundation Grant, San Francisco, CA for the New Deal Legacy Project, Co-recipient, 2004
Best Book of the Year Award, New York Times, New York, NY, Co-recipient, 1993
Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize, Center For Documentary Studies at Duke University, Co-recipient, 1992
Visual Artists Fellowship, National Endowment For the Arts, 1988
New Faces Award, American Photographer, New York, NY, 1986
Ruttenberg Fellowship, Friends of Photography, 1984
The Photographer's Work Grant, Maine Photographic Workshops, 1984
California Arts Council Grant, Co-recipient, 1984
California Council For the Humanities Grant, Co-recipient, 1984
James D. Phelan Award, San Francisco Foundation, 1982
 
SELECTED PUBLICATIONS (* indicates monographs and collaborations)
The Campaign for Art: Gifts for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA 2016
Tahoe: A Visual History, Skira Rizzoli, New York, NY and the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV 2015
Time Magazine, 10/27/15, "See Some of America's Most Amazing Public Libraries"
Carleton Watkins: The Stanford Album, Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, Stanford, CA-Includes my essay "Malkoff Diggins, North Bloomfield, Nevada County, Cal." 2014
The Public Library: A Photographic Essay, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, NY 2014*
The Altered Landcape: Photographs of a Changing Environment, Skira Rizzoli, New York, NY and the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV 2011
Infinite City A San Francisco Atlas,University of California Press, Berkeley, CA edited by Rebecca Solnit 2010
Into the Sunset Photography's Image of the American West, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY 2009
What We Share Photographic Projects of Robert Dawson 1984-2008, Cavallo Point, Sausalito, CA 2008
Where We Live, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA 2006
The Land Through A Lens, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC 2003
A Doubtful River, University of Nevada Press, Reno, NV by Robert Dawson, Peter Goin and Mary Webb 2000*
Seizing the Light: A History of Photography, McGraw Hill, Boston, MA 2000
Farewell, Promised Land: Waking from the California Dream, University of California Press,
Berkeley, CA by Robert Dawson and Gray Brechin, 1999*
The Great Central Valley: California's Heartland, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA
by Robert Dawson and Stephen Johnson, text by Gerald Haslam, 1993*
Between Home and Heaven: Contemporary American Landscape Photography, National
Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 1992
Arid Waters: Photographs From the Water in the West Project, University of Nevada Press, 1992
Aperture, #120, "Water in the West," 1990
Robert Dawson Photographs, Gallery Min, Tokyo, Japan, 1988*
 
SELECTED EXHIBITIONS (* indicates solo exhibition)
LH Horton Gallery, San Joaquin Delta College, Stockton, CA "On Reading in the San Joaquin" 2016*
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA "California and the West: Photographs from the Campaign for Art" 2016
Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV "Tahoe: A Visual History" 2015-2016
Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery, University of California at Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA "Three Lives in Photography" 2014
Stanford Art Gallery, Stanford University, Stanford, CA "Public Discourse: Photographs by Robert Dawson" 2013*
Center For Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucscon "The Water in the West Project" 2011
San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, CA "Public Library An American Commons" 2011*
San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, CA "Empire of Thirst Robert Dawson's Photographs of Water in the West" 2010*
City Windows Gallery, San Jose, CA "The Conscience of the City Treating Wastewater in Silicon Valley" 2010*
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA "The View From Here" 2010
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY "Into the Sunset Photography's Image of the American West" 2009
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA “Where We Live Photographs of America” 2006
Palazzo Ducale, Genova, Italy “Arti & Architettura 1900-200” 2004-2005
FotoFest 2004, Houston, TX “Water in the West Group” 2004
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC “The Land Through A Lens” 2003-2005
Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan “Go On Being, Our Blue Star!” 2002
The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA “The Great Wide Open” 2001
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA “Made in California” 2000
The Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA “Awakening from the California Dream” 1999 *
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY "Perpetual Mirage" 1996
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA "Crossing the Frontier" 1996
National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC "Between Home and Heaven" 1992
Sheppard Gallery, University of Nevada, Reno, NV "The Water in the West Project" 1991
The Friends of Photography, San Francisco, CA "Nature and Culture" 1989
Gallery Min, Tokyo, Japan "Robert Dawson" 1988 *
California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA "The Great Central Valley Project" 1986
San Francisco Camerawork, San Francisco, CA 1982 *
"At Mono Lake", Traveled throughout the United States, 1980 - 1983
 
SELECTED PROJECTS 
The Global Library Project 2015 - present
The Folger Shakespeare Library: A Photographic Study 2014 - present
Raising Literacy: A Photographic Survey of Libraries and Literacy in San Joaquin County, Stockton, CA 2014 - present
Photographer-in-Residence, Water Pollution Control Plant, City of San Jose, CA, 2009-2010
New Deal Legacy Project, Director and Photographer, 2004 – 2008
Global Water Project, Director and Photographer, 2001 – present
American Public Library Project, Director and Photographer, 1994 - present
Farewell, Promised Land Project, Co-Director and Photographer, 1992 - 1999
Pyramid Lake Project, Co-Director and Photographer, 1989 - 2000
Water in the West Project, Co-Director and Photographer, 1983 - present
Great Central Valley Project, Co-Director and Photographer, 1982 - 1993
 
IN THE PERMANENT COLLECTION OF
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Museum, Washington, DC
Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
The Center For Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, TX
The Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA
Bibliotheque Nationale, Cabinet des Estampes, Paris, France