About the Photographer:
Born in the Midwest, John Charles began his study of photography as a pre-teen, in order to document a family trip to the Gettysburg battleground, one of his earliest experiences in grappling with the implications of cross-cultural conflicts. He gained further insights into the clash of cultures – both religious and national – when he transferred from a Catholic primary school in Ohio to an evangelical Christian missionary high school in Korea, due to his father’s job relocation.
Additional knowledge of the complexity of cultural constructs was gained by moving to Japan after living in Korea, and realizing that much of the history he learned in Korea was subject to reinterpretation from a Japanese perspective.
Charles’ education includes a Research Fellowship in Media Production at Nihon University’s College of Fine Arts, additional study at Aoyama Gakuin University and the Inter-University Center (all in Tokyo, Japan) as well as art history and media production classes in the US and courses at ICP in New York, along with training received in the photography darkrooms of the 8th US Army base in Yongsan, Seoul, Korea.
Having photographed teddy bears in over 21 countries on all of the seven continents, and given the geographic distribution of his Facebook friends, Charles considers himself justified in his self-reference as a “world renowned teddy bear photographer.” When not traveling, he divides his time among his residences in New York, Connecticut and Arizona, where he does his best to remain unrecognized.
About John Charles' Artistic Vision of "Deep Superficiality:"
Charles structures his teddy bear images to invite a multitude of interpretations and reactions on a number of levels, while knowing the surface level will predominate for most observers, a concept he calls "Deep Superficiality."
"I like to reverberate among cross-cultural artifacts, icons, and histories by creating unexpected juxtapositions inviting contemplation and reflection. My vision challenges perceptions and expectations, and forces a critical reevaluation of unexamined preconceptions.
If my photos make you smile, then I’m happy for you. If they make you think, then I’m happy for me."