About the Exhibition

Adger Cowans (American, b. 1936) is a celebrated photographer whose wide-ranging work includes the civil rights movement, jazz musicians, landscape, and artistic studies of the human form, water, and light. He is also one of the founding members of Kamoinge, a Black photographers collective whose mission is to ‘Honor, document, preserve and represent the history and culture of the African Diaspora with integrity and respect for humanity through the lens of Black Photographers.’

This exhibition, curated by Halima Taha, presents Cowans’s use of photography to articulate the beauty within the human condition and the world we live in with over fifty images from his illustrious career.

The Columbus, OH native was one of the first African American students to earn a degree in Photography from Ohio University in 1958. He studied under Clarence H. White, Jr. and later with Minor White. His education continued at the School of Motion Picture Arts and School of Visual Arts in New York City. Cowans secured a position assisting photographer Gordon Parks at LIFE Magazine, and later served in the United States Navy in Virginia Beach, VA. He continued to work as a photographer. Cowans also had an illustrious career in cinema as a film still photographer on over thirty Hollywood sets, working with directors like Francis Ford Coppola, Sidney Lumet, and Spike Lee.

Cowans has won numerous awards and fellowships from a varied commercial and personal work portfolio. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Harvard Art Museums, the International Center of Photography, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and numerous other art institutions have shown his photographs. The legendary photographer Gordon Parks, for whom Cowans once worked, called him “one of the most significant artists of our time” and noted, “Adger’s individualism sets him apart, simply because he follows his convictions.”

Image: Adger Cowans, Icarus, 1970, silver gelatin print. Courtesy of the artist and Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York. © Adger Cowans

Faculty liaisons:
Sonya Huber (Professor, Creative Writing)
Claudia Calhoun (Assistant Professor, Film, TV and Media)

Spanish translations:
Laura Gasca Jiménez (Assistant Professor, Spanish and Translation Studies)

Explore the Exhibition

Browse Selected Artworks

Adger Cowans: Sense and Sensibility

Exhibition Brochure

Curated by Halima Taha

Video Tour



Events listed below with a location are live, in-person programs (please see our updated Covid-19 policy for protocols for in-person events) thequicklive.com and the recordings posted to our YouTube channel.


Opening Night Event: Adger Cowans: Sense and Sensibility

Thursday, January 27, 6 - 8 p.m.

Book-signing of Adger (2022, 21st Century Editions) and live music by Grammy-winning saxophonist Patience Higgins
Bellarmine Hall, Great Hall

Lecture: Collecting Black Art

Wednesday, March 9, 5 p.m.

Halima Taha, Curator of Adger Cowans: Sense and Sensibility
Part of the Edwin L. Weisl, Jr. Lectureships in Art History, funded by the Robert Lehman Foundation
Co-sponsored by the Black Student Union.
Kelley Theatre + streaming

Conversation: The Illustrious Career of Adger Cowans

Wednesday, April 13, 5 p.m

Deborah Willis, PhD & Adger Cowans, moderated by exhibition curator Halima Taha
Part of the Edwin L. Weisl, Jr. Lectureships in Art History, funded by the Robert Lehman Foundation
Co-sponsored by the Black Studies program
Kelley Theater + streaming

Conversation: Halima Taha and Leslie K. Brown, PhD in conversation with Adger Cowans and Larry Silver

Wednesday, April 20, 5 p.m.

Presented in conjunction with the exhibitions Adger Cowans: Sense and Sensibility (Bellarmine Hall Galleries) and 13 Ways of Looking at Landscape: Larry Silver’s Connecticut Photographs (Walsh Gallery)
Kelley Theatre + streaming


Art & Antiques
"Casting a Long Shadow"

Lifelong Projects: Invaluable Cowans and Silver Photographs at Fairfield

New England Magazine
"10 events to visit in Connecticut"

Blind Magazine
"Adger Cowan’s Intimate Chronicle of Black American Life"

Connecticut Public
"Movie stars, jazz icons, water and light: photographer Adger Cowans reflects on his life’s work"

Connecticut Public video interview


Additional Information

Bellarmine Hall Galleries and Walsh Gallery Hours:

Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. We are closed for national and university holidays and during inclement weather.


The FUAM's main galleries are located on the lower level of Bellarmine Hall. For GPS please use the following address: 200 Barlow Road, Fairfield, CT 06824 (or click the map at right for directions).


Free parking is available in front of Bellarmine Hall. Handicap parking is available next to the museum’s service and classroom entrance on the lower level of Bellarmine Hall.


The museum is open to the public and admission is free.


Private tours with a curator are available for a fee; please contact museum@fairfield.edu or 203-254-4046.

Reach Us By train:

Take Metro-North, New Haven Line, to Fairfield Station (approximately 70 minutes from Grand Central Station).

For further information or to schedule a visit or tour, please contact

Fairfield University Art Museum
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
(203) 254-4046

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