Emmet Gowin (Danville, south of Virginia, 1941) Gowin meets his future wife, Edith Morris, in 1960 and a year later, enrols in the Commercial Art Department of the Richmond Professional Institute. Marries Edith, 1964. His wife’s family becomes the core of the artist’s photographic and spiritual universe thanks to the summers they spend together with the Morrises in Danville. A year later Presents his thesis,Concerning America and Alfred Stieglitz, and Myself, at Richmond. In late August, the couple moves to Providence so that Emmet can begin studying with Harry Callahan in the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). graduated in 1967.
1968 Holds his first solo exhibition at the Dayton Art Institute. A three years later Exhibits with Robert Adams at MoMA in New York and at the MIT Creative Photography Gallery in Cambridge (Massachusetts). 1972 Goes on his first trips to England, Ireland and Scotland. His first solo exhibition is held at New York’s Light Gallery, which will represent Gowin over the next fourteen year and discovers the work of William Blake, an intellectual reference in his work.
In 1973 Begins to work as a teacher of the Visual Arts Program at Princeton University. In 1982 Queen Noor of Jordan, a student of Gowin’s at Princeton in 1974, invites him to photograph the archaeological site in Petra. After three visits, he completes his series of photographs of that location. In 1987 begins to look for missile silos, as well as other footprints left by the nuclear era, in Missouri, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana.
His exhibitions and fellowship are numerous. In 2002 The Yale University Art Gallery, in collaboration with The Corcoran Gallery of Art and Yale University Press, publishes Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth: aerial photographs. The exhibition travels throughout the United States over the course of several years. Two years later the School of Arts at Nihon University (Tokyo) organises a retrospective of the artist’s work from 1967 to 2003. In 2005 the Photo Gallery International in Tokyo exhibits Emmet Gowin: Czech Republic 1992-1994. In next spring, Gowin receives the 31st Annual Howard T. Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities from Princeton University.
Gowin Retires from Princeton University after thirty-six years as a teacher. As a commemoration, Joel Smith, a photography curator, and the Princeton University Art Museum, organise the exhibition Emmet Gowin: A Collective Portrait, and in 2010 the Los Angeles-based Marc Selwyn Fine Arts Gallery exhibits Aerial Photographs.
As he said himself in 2009, “There are things in your life that only you will see, stories that only you will hear. If you don’t tell them or write them down, if you don’t make the picture, these things will not be seen, these things will not be heard.”