USA Network announces the launch of Character Project, an ongoing artistic initiative to celebrate the extraordinary people, from all walks of life, who make this country unique. Inspired by USAs iconic Characters Welcome brand, and with the support of the not-for-profit photography organization Aperture Foundation, USA assembled a team of 11 world-class photographers to capture the character of America during the summer of 2008. The artists work will be showcased in the powerful photography book entitled American Character: A Photographic Journey, published by Chronicle Books. The book will be available beginning March 17 in retailers across the country and internationally, as well as at characterproject.usanetwork.com and other major online outlets.
Featuring each photographers provocative perspective on our nations most compelling characters, American Character celebrates the continuously-evolving mosaic of our country. The photographs from the book will be on display in a touring exhibition, co-hosted by Vanity Fair, beginning in New York City Thursday March 12 and visiting six additional cities: Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Character Project photography will additionally be featured in a national print, on-air and out-of-home campaign including a 12-page insert in the April issue of Vanity Fair.
Characters Welcome is much more than a brand positioning; its a philosophy, a perspective and a point of view, said Chris McCumber, USAs executive vice president, marketing, digital and brand strategy. Through the Character Project initiative we want to turn the lens from the characters on our air to our audience real Americans and encourage them to celebrate and explore their own unique character and personal stories.
The foreword for American Character: A Photographic Journey was written by best-selling author and former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw. Having experienced the innumerable facets of American character throughout his career, Brokaw brings his worldly voice to the introduction of the book. Im thrilled to work with USA on Character Project and to write the foreword for American Character: A Photographic Journey, says Brokaw. This book is a fascinating study of and tribute to the mosaic of modern American character. From Alaska to New York City, you will see the changing face of a nation.
Character Project Photographers
The Character Project Photographers include legendary artists Mary Ellen Mark and Sylvia Plachy as well as Dawoud Bey, Jeff Dunas, David Eustace, Eric Ogden, Marla Rutherford, Anna Mia Davidson, Joe Fornabaio, Eric McNatt and Richard Renaldi. In an effort to create a thoughtful depiction of American character, USA allowed the contributors uncensored creative freedom to interpret the subject through their own eyes. Each photographic essay showcases a range of characters from musicians and local heroes to farmers and patriots, photographed at home, at work and at play in big cities and small towns across the country. Film for many of the eleven projects was kindly provided by Kodak.
Dawoud Bey: Photographed a diverse cross-section of young Americans near Chicagos 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 US state.
- Marla Rutherford: Shot portraits of individuals from around Los Angeles who had never before been professionally photographed.
A Celebration of Character in Local Communities
As part of a community affairs outreach program, USA Network will bring Character Project and the book to life on the local level via the following:
Character Project Local Curriculum: USA Network partnered with local educators to create a companion curriculum targeting high school students. The initiative includes character-themed lesson plans that consist of three individual yet complementary sections: Character, Connection and Capture. Each section will offer a variety of activities, including writing, reading, discussion and experiential, all of which will encourage students through self-reflection and discovery to consider the role character plays in their personal lives and within their communities. The study also offers tips for the students to create their own Character Project. The curriculum will be available online at characterproject.usanetwork.com and will meet national standards for education in English, Literature and Art.
Digital Photography Contest: High school students within each local market have the opportunity to submit photos that capture characters in their own city, neighborhood or school. USA Network will provide a contest kit, which will be distributed by local cable partners throughout the school district. Winners will be selected based on based on originality, creativity and presentation. Local winners will meet a featured photographer and have their photos displayed at the Character Project exhibition in their market and on the Character Project website. Additionally, winners will receive a digital camera and a grant to support arts education in his or her school.
Field Trips to Local Exhibitions: As an overlay to the photography contest, up to three local high school classes will have the opportunity to attend their local Character Project exhibition. Students will have the chance to participate in a question and answer session with the Character Project artists.
For more information on the project, go to the official website at characterproject.usanetwork.com.
About USA Network
USA Network is the #1 network in all of basic cable and is seen in 94 million U.S. homes. A division of NBC Universal, USA is the cable television leader in original series and is home to the biggest hits in blockbuster films, acquired television and entertainment events. Viewers come to USA to find television’s best in critically-acclaimed and award-winning original programming, such as MONK, BURN NOTICE, PSYCH, IN PLAIN SIGHT, LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT, THE STARTER WIFE and WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW, as well as the highest-rated acquired originals, including HOUSE, NCIS and LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT. The award-winning USA website is located at www.usanetwork.com, which is home to the popular new casual gaming site, http://www.characterarcade.com/. Characters Welcome.
USA Network is a program service of NBC Universal Cable a division of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience.
About Aperture Foundation
Aperture Foundation is a nonprofit arts institution dedicated to advancing photography in all its forms. Aperture was founded in 1952 by gifted individuals, among them photographers Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Barbara Morgan, and Minor White; historian Beaumont Newhall; and writer/curator Nancy Newhall. With scant resources, these visionary artists created a new periodical, Aperture magazine, to serve photographers and photography enthusiasts worldwide. As the medium flourished, so too did Aperture Foundation, expanding to include the subsequent publication of books (over four hundred to date); limited-edition photographs and portfolios; artist lectures and symposia; and a traveling exhibitions program that since its inception has presented over one hundred exhibitions at major museums and cultural institutions throughout the United States and abroad. For more information about Aperture, visit http://www.aperture.org.
About Chronicle Books
One of the most admired and respected publishing companies in the U.S., Chronicle Books was founded in 1967 and over the years has developed a reputation for award-winning, innovative books. Recently recognized as one of the 50 best small companies to work for in the U.S. (and the only independent publisher to receive this award), the company continues to challenge conventional publishing wisdom, setting trends in both subject and format, maintaining a list that includes illustrated titles in design, art, architecture, photography, food, lifestyle and pop culture, as well as much-admired books for children and ancillary products through its gift division. Chronicle Books objective is to create and distribute exceptional publishing thats instantly recognizable for its spirit, creativity, and value. For more information about Chronicle Books, visit www.chroniclebooks.com.
About Vanity Fair
From entertainment to world affairs, business to style, design to society, Vanity Fair is a cultural catalysta magazine that provokes and drives the popular dialogue. With its unique mix of stunning photography, in-depth reportage, and social commentary, Vanity Fair accelerates ideas and images to center stage. Each month, Vanity Fair is an unrivaled media event that reaches millions of modern, sophisticated consumers who create demand for your brand.
Every day, Kodak helps more than a half-billion consumers, businesses, and creative professionals unleash the power of pictures and printing to enrich their lives. Their continued ability to create relevant, easy-to-use products that help people make, manage and move pictures keeps Kodak a trusted, respected brand today. Kodak continues its long-standing history of providing the very best tools for professional photographers who want images of the highest quality. In the past two years, Kodak has introduced at least seven new professional films and improved emulsions. For the USA Network Character Project, Kodak provided its professional film to photographers to capture the iconic images. To learn more about Kodak, visit http://www.kodak.com/go/professional and follow their blogs and more at http://www.kodak.com/go/followus.