Guggenheim Fellow Elijah Gowin Photographs Emotional Landscapes
Elijah Gowin says that his southern experiences inspired his early photographs. But the disastrous events of recent years – earthquakes, tsunamis, Katrina – provoked Gowin to tell a larger story, one he describes as “lack of control of our landscapes.
“I looked beyond my own horizon,” Gowin offers. The resulting images of baptism, falling figures and lonely visages stir up feelings of insecurity and fragility. At the same time, the people in his pictures have a haunting power and solidity.
Now Gowin’s style and techniques have earned him a Guggenheim Fellowship. Gowin is one of 190 scholars, composers, artists and scientists chosen from 2,600 applicants. An assistant professor of Art and Art History, Gowin has been on the UMKC faculty since 2002.
Gowin began the application process with a project concept, a history
of his prior work and pieces from a May 2007
“Guggenheim may be the only foundation that asks for real objects instead of a digital portfolio,” says Gowin. “I think having the actual photos in hand allows the selection team to relate to the work they are evaluating.”
Gowin’s series, “Of Falling and Floating,” combines photographic processes from the 19th century with the newest digital tools. Gowin says that it is not the technology that is remarkable, but his way of assembling everything. Amateur photos of people on trampolines are repositioned so that the figures appear to be falling from the sky into an inhospitable landscape.
The Guggenheim Fellowship will allow Gowin to explore this theme by
photographing the cliff divers in
Gowin’s works have been exhibited in
“I was pushed to take a risk,” Gowin says, “by the Charlotte Street
Foundation. They sponsored
juried shows with critics and curators from outside
Karen Vorst, Dean, Arts and Science, refers to Gowin as a terrific young artist.
“His Guggenheim Fellowship is evidence of
his extraordinary talent, and brings distinction to him as a productive