Ron Tarver received a BA in Journalism and Graphic Arts from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma and an MFA from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He is an Associate Professor of Art at Swarthmore College. Before joining the faculty at Swarthmore, he had been a staff photojournalist at The Philadelphia Inquirer for 32 years, where he shares the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for his work on a series documenting school violence in the Philadelphia public school system. During his time at the Inquirer, he was nominated for three Pulitzers and honored with awards from World Press Photos, the Sigma Delta Chi Award of the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Profession National Press Photographers Association/ University of Missouri Pictures of the Year, as well as other national, state, and local honors.
In addition to his newspaper publications, Tarver's work has appeared in National Geographic, Life, Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Ebony, Jet, Black and White Magazine, Huffington Post, and Hyperallergic. He is a co-author of the book We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans, published by Harper Collins in 2004, which was accompanied by a traveling exhibition that debuted at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
Tarver has distinguished himself in the field of fine art photography. A recipient of Guggenheim and Pew Fellowships, he has also received grants and funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and two Independence Foundation Fellowships. He was named one of the Delaware Valley's "50 Rising Stars in the Arts" by Seven Arts Magazine and is a Fellow of the Center for Emerging Visual Artists. He is a former trustee of the TILT Center for the Contemporary Image and now serves on its advisory council.
Tarver's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in over 30 solo and 50 group exhibitions. It is included in many private, corporate, and museum collections, including the National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, Oklahoma History Center, and many other corporate and private collections. His work is represented by the Robin Rice Gallery in New York and Grand Image in Seattle.