Born and raised in Harlem, New York, Shawn Walker has a BFA from Empire State College and is a founding member of Kamoinge, the longest-existing Black photographers’ collective. A professional photographer/filmmaker for more than 50 years and a photographic educator for more than 40 years, he has traveled extensively, exhibited, lectured, and published worldwide. Exhibitions have included The Smithsonian Institute, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, The Brooklyn Museum, The Schomburg Center, Vassar College, The International Center of Photography, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Whitney Museum, Cinque Gallery, PS1, SF Museum of Modern Art, Danbury Academy of Fine Arts, The Soros Foundation and many others.
His work is included in the permanent collections of MOMA (NY), Schomburg Center, The Brooklyn Museum, NY Public Library, The Studio Museum in Harlem, the Museum of Natural History, John Oliver Killens, The Virginia Museum of Fine Art, The National Gallery of Art (DC), Tang Museum, Blue Nile Institute for Film and Journalism (Ethiopia) and others. Publications include work in Timeless, Reflections in Black: A History of African-American Photographers 1840-1999; New York: A History in Images; The Afro-American Encyclopedia; Culturefront; New World; Black Issues Book Review Magazine; Traditional Music: Gospel Songs; Hommes Y Migrations; An Illustrated Biography of Black Photography 1940-88; Light Works; Nuevo Luz; River Styx; Essence; Black Photographers Annual, Black Renaissance Noir and many others.
Walker has taught in the City University of New York system, at the International Center of Photography and for the United Federation of Teachers, Blue Nile/UNESCO, and served on the New York Foundation for the Arts. He is the first African-American photographer to have a collection of his work acquired by The Library of Congress.