The Innocent Eye, with Wendy Ewald (Conversations with History)

Photographer Wendy Ewald joins host Harry Kreisler in a discussion of her craft, shares her thoughts on working with children, and reflects on using a camera as an educational tool in Conversations with History

In a 1998 video interview with Wendy Ewald, American historian Harry Kreisler acknowledges the complex positioning of community-based practitioners bluntly: “Are you a photographer, an educator, both, or more than just those two things?” He laughs, and his interviewee Ewald, who has been working on collaborative photographic projects with children for more than 40 years, returns the laughter, before she responds carefully. Her tone makes clear that this question about the composition of her practice has been asked many times and that there are no easy answers. “Well,” she pauses, “I used to resist this question a lot…I never studied education, I took one education course in college and dropped out. So I guess you could say by training I’m an artist, or a photographer. I think what I did really, or do, in a sense, was use my practice as a photographer and artist as education…” Five years later in a less formal conversation with Tom Finkelpearl, then Director of the Queens Museum of Art, about the reception of her collaborative photographic practice 1, she ventures that even after more than four decades of work, she still senses a profound misunderstanding of what she and her peers are doing: “Even after considerable critical writing on artistic cooperation, exchange and artistic participation, people still ask her if the collaborations are all she does, or if she has time for her own work.” 2 – Gemma-Rose Turnbull, Collaborator née Subject
Premiere Date: 4/2/1998; 48 minutes 3


  1. He credits this conversation as the inspiration for writing his book exploring this turn towards collaborative art practices, What we made: Conversations on art and social cooperation (2013).
  2. Tom Finkelpearl, What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2013), v.
  3. Harry Kreisler, “The Innocent Eye, with Wendy Ewald (Conversations with History),” UCTV – University of California Television, April 2, 1998,
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