- iLCP Photographer Since 2005, Founding Fellow
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Over the last 45 years, Robert Glenn Ketchum’s imagery, writing, exhibitions, numerous books and personal activism have helped to define photography’s successful use in conservation advocacy. At the same time, Ketchum’s decades of color printing are one of the most unique bodies of work in contemporary color photography, and the textile translations of his photographs created in China since the early 1980’s are among the most beautiful and complex textiles in contemporary art.
Ketchum was named by Audubon magazine as one of the 100 people “who shaped the environmental movement of the 20th Century.” American Photo magazine listed him one of the 100 most important people in contemporary photography in the 1990’s, and then in 2010, named him 5th in their Masters Series, following Henri Cartier-Bresson, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, and Annie Leibovitz.
Ketchum’s work is in numerous collections including the Museum of Modern Art (NY), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY), The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the High Museum (GA), and the Houston Museum of Fine Art (TX). Large study collections (over 50 images) have been established at the Huntington Library, Museums and Garden (CA), and the Amon Carter Museum (TX).
Ketchum received his B.A. cum laude from UCLA, and his M.F.A from California Institute of the Arts. He has also been awarded an MS by Brooks Institute of Photography.
As the Curator of Photography for the National Park Foundation for 15-years, Ketchum wrote the seminal “American Photographers and the National Parks” which has served to inspire historians to recognize the power of the photograph in shaping land-use, and also served to inspire younger student photographers and Ketchum’s peers to use their work in ways that serve conservation advocacy. Decades later, Ketchum was a Founding Fellow of iLCP, which came together when his many friends matured in their careers and united around this common purpose for their imagery.
Ketchum published The Tongass: Alaska’s Vanishing Rain Forest in 1986 and followed an historical path of distributing the book in Congress and exhibiting in the Capitol Rotunda. In 1990, President Bush signed the Tongass Timber Reform Bill into law, one of the most significant pieces of timber legislation in US history. Ketchum was acknowledged for the influence of his efforts, had an audience with the President in The White House, and received the United Nations Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award from King Gustav of Sweden.
In successive Aperture Foundation publications, Ketchum’s work addressed federal land use/abuse (Overlooked In America: The Success and Failure of Federal Land Management, 1989) while helping to create a new national park, issues of climate change and the alteration of the Arctic environment (Northwest Passage, 1995), and in 1998, Ketchum was the first to recognize the vulnerable resources of southwest Alaska. In 2001, he released Rivers of Life: Southwest Alaska, the Last Great Salmon Fishery and then in 2004, Wood-Tikchik: Alaska’s Largest State Park all intended to drive a coalition and campaign to protect the salmon fishery of Bristol Bay as well as the habitat that supports it from oil/gas exploration and the development of the Pebble mine. In 2010 Interior Secretary, Ken Salazaar, honored Ketchum with the Partnerships in Conservation Award for his work in Bristol Bay and southwest.
With other campaigns, Ketchum’s imagery has helped to enlarge Saguaro National Park; protect the Tatshenshini River corridor from mine development while creating the largest contiguous designated wilderness in the world; critique national forest managements practices by participation in the book, Clearcut: The Travesty of Industrial Forestry; and create several new state parks in California.
As a collected, print-making photographer, Ketchum has traveled major exhibitions to support his books and projects, and has other publications dedicated to the larger expanse of his career which includes the textile imagery he has been making in China since 1984.
Ketchum is also a highly regarded speaker who has addressed audiences at The National Academy of Science, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the National Museum of Natural History, George Eastman House, and Rhode Island School of Design to name but a few.
Ketchum is a lifetime Trustee of the Alaska Conservation Foundation, a Founding Fellow of iLCP, and on the board of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance and Blue Earth Alliance.