Sparking a conversation with Shawn Theodore, we reveal his approach to “afromythology,” his connection to mentor and hip-hop photographer Jamel Shabazz, and his thoughts on representations of Black American life.
Shawn Theodore (b. 1970, Germany) is an award-winning photographer whose work opens broad conversations regarding the role of the photographer in the shaping of agency and imagery, engages in new forms of storytelling, and impacts the trajectory of the collective black consciousness.
Theodore has participated in exhibitions at various institutions, galleries, and fairs, including the African American Museum in Philadelphia (2017, 2018), Mennello Museum of American Art (2018), The Barnes Foundation (2017, 2018, 2019), Steven Kasher Gallery (2018), AIPAD (2018, 2019), Hudson Valley Community College (2018), Catherine Edelman Gallery (2017), The Bakalar & Paine Galleries at MassArt (2017), Snap! Orlando (2018), Richard Beavers Gallery (2018), PRIZM Art Fair, Scope Art Fair, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Rush Arts Gallery (2017, 2018), and the University of the Arts (2019). His commercial projects include works for Apple, Showtime Networks, RocNation, PAPER Magazine, New York Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, The Atlantic, The New York Times, PDN, and others.
Theodore was awarded the prestigious PDN’s 30 New & Emerging Photographers to Watch (2019), the Getty Images / ARRAY ‘Where We Stand’ (2018) grant, and a grant from the Knight Foundation for ‘A Dream Deferred’ (2018). He is a two-time nominee of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Fellowship, and a nominee of the Magnum Foundation Fund.
Theodore earned his BA in JPRA (Journalism, Public Relations and Advertising) from Temple University. He currently attends the MFA for Photography program at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD Atlanta). Theodore is a current trustee of the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation and the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center.