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Oral history interview with Emmet Gowin, 2010 May 13-14

Gowin, Emmet, 1941-



Collection Information

Size: 7 Items, Sound recording, master: 7 memory cards (6 hr., 3 min.), secure digital, 1.25 in.; 81 Pages, Transcript

Summary: Interview of Emmet Gowin, conducted by Frank Goodyear for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution at the Gowins' home in Danville, Virginia, on May 13-14, 2010.
Gowin speaks of his upbringing and how he decided to become a Quaker; his relationship with his sister, who had Down Syndrome; growing up in Chincoteague, VA and other Virginia towns; going to business school in Richmond; meeting his wife Edith; transitioning from Richmond Professional Institute to work with Harry Callahan at the Rhode Island School of Design; learning different techniques of printing pictures; studying with Frederick Sommer; the making and reception of his early family photographs of Edith, the Boohers, and his children; other photographic projects including the Mount St. Helens eruption, photographs in the Middle East, Europe, and South America, nuclear test sites in the western U.S., and his collection of moths; teaching at Princeton University; his attitude toward Postmodernism; how the Light Gallery began; and his artistic influences, including Callahan, Sommer, Robert Frank, Alfred Stieglitz, Walker Evans, Eugéne Atget, Hercules Seghers, William Blake, and others. Gowin also recalls Peter Bunnell, Grant Gentry, Fazal Sheikh, Peter McGill, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Elaine Pagels, and others.

Biographical/Historical Note

Interviewee Emmet Gowin (1941- ) is an educator and photographer in Newtown, Pa. Gowin photographed Edith and Rennie Booher and extended family. Interviewer Frank H. Goodyear (1967- ) was at the time of the interview the associate curator of photographs with the National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, D.C.


This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

Language Note

English .


Funding for this interview was provided by the Brown Foundation.

How to Use This Collection

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Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Emmet Gowin, 2010 May 13-14. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.