Skip to main content

Bear Witness

April 8 - June 12, 2016

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.

Mar 18, 2016

Detail images courtesy of S. Beth Atkin: Jeff’s shooting journal by rifle, 2006 from Gunstories: Life-changing Experiences with Guns; Working in the lettuce furrows, 1993 from Voices from the Fields: Children of Migrant Farmworkers Tell Their Stories, de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University, 1995.2.40; Brandy Signing Crips Star, 1996 from Voices from the Streets: Young Former Gang Members Tell Their Stories.