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Carl Bower

Carl Bower is a photographer exploring intimate portrayals of private experience, through both documentary work and portraiture. Frequent themes include perceptions of beauty, coping with adversity, personal identity within prevailing social structures, and the relationship between trauma, shame, and isolation. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, his work has been exhibited at the Georgia Museum of Art, the Phoenix Art Museum, Blue Sky Gallery, and the Annenberg Space for Photography.

Artist Statement

Private Fears

We are not defined by our fears, but I believe they cut to the core of our being in a way that most other feelings do not.

I spent several years struggling with a companion turned stalker. Restraining orders were undermined by wavering resolve, and my personal life was a disaster. Yet I kept it hidden, too embarrassed to share my situation with anyone. The longer it went on, the more ashamed I became, leading to further isolation.

The experience made me wonder what others were hiding, what they were afraid to tell anyone for fear of repercussions. I knew how well a facade can be maintained, that we cannot trust what we see.

Our fears are held closely, and the experience of them is intensely personal and isolating. I’ve asked complete strangers to share their fears and be photographed. For some, the experience is cathartic. This series examines the dichotomy between our who we are and who we appear to be, of how little we know of those around us and what they carry.

Release Date: April 15, 2022
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"I am a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. I have had an issue with self injury since combat and my divorce. I don’t know if my fear is that I’m afraid to love anyone again, or if I don’t know how to live without the pain." - Justain

Justain ,2019