Biography

Bio EN

A renowned New York City-based photographer, filmmaker and self-professed “pop-culture junkie,” Lyle Owerko’s editorial and fine art projects regularly take the globe-trotting artist to Africa, Japan, Europe and South America. Known for his perception and knowledge of urban movement, his instinctually crafter visual images have found an indelible place in the lexicon of pop culture and journalism. His current projects seek to bridge ethnic borders in a manner that documents cultural groups for the betterment of the human condition.

With his series The Samburu Tribe, Owerko documents the culture and customs of the Samburu, a Kenyan warrior tribe. While they were still cut-off from civilization 10 years ago, this tribe is now confronted with globalization and new technologies that threaten their identity and traditions. This series is part of a broader project documenting the Samburu through this process of assimilation, where their way of life is increasingly influenced by Western technologies and values. This endangered traditional culture is one of the favorite subjects of the artist. Lyle Owerko also produces the Eagle Hunter series which, along the same lines, explores the transformative power of culture. Lyle Owerko's shots offer an intimate view of the ancient communities of Mongolia. These evocative images offer a singular and surreal beauty, contrasting with the raw landscape of the Mongolian mountains.

Lyle Owerko is also widely known for his series The Boombox Project. This project was born from a series of portable radio cassette recordings from the 1970s and 1980s that he has been collecting since the early 2000s. Using his Hasselblad camera, Lyle Owerko captures the physicality of nostalgia related to this device, which had been a cohesive element between different musical cultures at the time. His project adopts the boombox as a symbol of a way of life and a bygone era, today associated with contestation and freedom of expression. Initially aspiring to create a documentary photo book, the project quickly evolved to take a more social and community tangent. The book, published by Éditions Abraham Images in 2010, includes many testimonials from artists, musicians and other great figures of New York street culture, and illustrates and reflects the phenomenon of the boombox.

His heart-wrenching editorial photograph of the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center appeared on the cover of TIME magazine and was called one of the 40 most important magazine covers in the last 40 years by the American Society of Magazine Editors. His film credits include music videos for Rufus Wainwright and American Hi-Fi and commercial spots with Robert Redford for The Sundance Channel. His work has been featured in Communication Arts magazine, The New York Times, The Village Voice, New York magazine, The London Times, BlackBook, and Vanity Fair.

Lyle Owerko was raised in Calgary, Canada. He studied at The Pratt Institute in New York where he earned a master's degree in communication design and currently resides in San Francisco. His photographs are found throughout the world in the permanent collections of the most prestigious institutions, including those of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.. Lyle Owerko is also the recipient of the Master Hasselblad Award in 2008.

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