Photographer Dawoud Bey Featured In USA Network's Character Project

Mesun, Chicago by Dawoud Bey from the USA Network's Character ProjectUsually I find subway billboards to be an eyesore but this morning an ad for the USA Network's "Character Project" held my gaze.

With the support of the Aperture Foundation, the USA Network assembled a team of 11 world-class photographers to capture the character of America during the summer of 2008. Film for many of the 11 projects was kindly provided by Kodak.

The photographers' work will be showcased in a book entitled American Character: A Photographic Journey, published by Chronicle Books and available beginning March 17th.

I thought this was a really unique way to capitalize on USA's iconic "Characters Welcome" brand and was pleasantly surprised to find one of my favorite portrait photographers, Dawoud Bey, as part of the project.

Here's a list of all 11 photographers and their subjects:

* Dawoud Bey: Photographed a diverse cross-section of young Americans near Chicago's Columbia College where he has taught for many years.

* Anna Mia Davidson: Photographed portraits of sustainable farmers in Washington State.

* Jeff Dunas: Shot a color series in and around Los Angeles documenting the American summer experience.

* David Eustace: Shot portraits and landscapes as he traveled along the entirety of Route 50, one of the oldest transcontinental roads, stretching over 3000 miles from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

* Joe Fornabaio: Photographed individuals at barbershops and salons in the New York metro area in order to capture characters engaged in a classic American ritual -- the haircut.

* Mary Ellen Mark: Documented festivals, parades and summer traditions in one of her favorite places to photograph: New York City.

* Eric McNatt: Photographed the "wild and wooly, quiet and intense, quirky and idiosyncratic spirit" of his hometown, Brownwood, Texas.

* Eric Ogden: Shot portraits of captivating and charismatic American musicians who all hail from Michigan, including Iggy Pop, Andrew W.K., Bootsy Collins, Deastro, Andre Williams and Detroit Cobras.

* Sylvia Plachy: Captured the "spirit of the south" through a series of portraits and panoramas in Mississippi.

* Richard Renaldi: Photographed the character of Alaska on its 50th anniversary as a U.S. state.

* Marla Rutherford: Shot portraits of individuals from around Los Angeles who had never before been professionally photographed.

You can see the project's photographs online at the Character Project website.

PHOTO: Mesun, Chicago by Dawoud Bey for USA Network's "Character Project"

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