Santa Clara, CA
When photographer and author S. Beth Atkin first moved to California to conduct research for her book Voices from the Fields: Children of Migrant Farmworkers Tell Their Stories, little did she know the affect this project would have on her life’s work.
Bear Witness: Photographs and Interviews by S. Beth Atkin traces her journey of investigation, trust, access, and representation, bringing together pieces of photography and writing from three bodies of work: Voices from the Fields: Children of Migrant Farmworkers Tell Their Stories; Voices from the Streets: Young Gang Members Tell Their Stories; and Gunstories: Life-changing Experiences with Guns. In developing each of these series, Atkin has served as a conduit for others, expressing their stories, realities, and secrets through a mixture of her own imagery and text. At times she made difficult decisions about what information to include as she found herself privy to information and events that her subjects might not want captured. Her experiences eventually led her to be an active force for change in these communities and propelled her into a new career: today she is a licensed psychotherapist working in the same communities she once photographed.
In Bear Witness, one finds how Atkin often explores the positive opportunities for growth or advancement rising out of difficult scenarios. Her work invites us to bear witness ourselves and join the ongoing conversations on today’s national stage.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website