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University Libraries to host Authors @ Alden with photographer and OHIO alumnus, Adger Cowans

Published: August 23, 2022 Author: Mimi Calhoun

University Libraries will host their first Authors @ Alden event of the academic year on Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. in Alden Library 1951 Lounge with OHIO alumnus, Adger Cowans (’58), who will be visiting his alma mater and talking about his photography book, “Adger.” The event is open and free to the public, and will also be live streamed.

Cowans was the second African American student to graduate from OHIO with a degree in photography before going on to work in the motion picture industry as a film still photographer. He has worked with directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Sidney Lumet and Spike Lee. Cowans also assisted LIFE magazine photographer, Gordon Parks, where the two worked closely together.

Moments and experiences in Cowan’s life heavily influence his work, from traveling with his family, to living through the Civil Rights movement. He vividly remembers most of these experiences due to his recollection of the specifics.

"I think my life has always been influenced by visual culture," Cowans said. "I think I had a visual memory, and I could remember details. That was really good for me in terms of photography because for me, life is in the details."

One thing that Cowans is excited for when he returns to OHIO is to share his experiences of what it was like to be a student on campus and to share his passion for art and photography.

“It feels great,” Cowans said. “I think it's a good opportunity to shed light on what things used to be in the past and what’s happening now. I think that’s a very big thing, especially in terms of the art world. And I think now that things have changed, I welcome the opportunity to come back, and talk about my work, how I survived, why it was important to me to be an artist and to stay with it all my life.”

Some advice that Cowans would give to students nowadays would be to go to a library and read up on information that may not be available online. Cowans believes catching up on the history of underrepresented groups of people such as African Americans, Native Americans and Asian Americans can limit negativity and instead bring about a more informed culture.

"I think it's important for all of us to begin to put out in the universe positive energy, not always negative stuff," Cowans added.

Julie Dummermuth, the director for OHIO’s School of Art + Design, will also be participating with this Authors @ Alden. She hopes the event will enrich student, faculty and community members’ experience, as well as help with innovative creativity and diversity.

It is my hope that this event is inspirational, poignant and engaging, and that it connects the audience to the award-winning career, rich work and influential history of this renowned individual (Adger Cowans),” Dummermuth said.

Dummermuth is also honored to welcome Cowans back to campus as a model, mentor and inspiration for students and the community alike.

“It is one of the deepest privileges I have in my role of School Director, and I am tremendously excited to have Adger Cowans back on the OHIO campus,” Dummermuth added.  “I am very much hoping that his visit serves as an inspiration to young African American photographers and to all potential photographers (and others in the arts).”

For more information about the event or to request accessibility accommodations, contact Jen Harvey, Library events coordinator, at harveyj1@ohio.edu.