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Painter and photographer Adger W. Cowans attended Ohio University where he received a BFA in photography. He served in the United States Navy as a photographer before moving to New York, where he worked with Life magazine photographer Gordon Parks and fashion photographer Henri Clarke. He is the recipient of a John Hay Whitney Fellowship and the Martin Luther King, Jr., Caesar Chavez, Rosa Parks Visiting Scholars Award, Wayne State University.

At his first one man show, at the Heliography Gallery in New York, Jacob Deschin of the New York Times described Cowans' work as "boldly inventive and experimental... the artist is a craftsman to his fingertips."

Recent major exhibitions include the upcoming Firenze Biennale in Italy; 'Committed to the Image' at the Brooklyn Museum of Art; 'A History of African American Photographers' and 'Seeing Jazz,' both at the Smithsonian Museum, and the Detroit Institute of Art's 'Reflections in Black: Smithsonian African American Photography.'

Cowans' photographs have been exhibited at the George Eastman House, the International Center of Photography, the Chicago Institute of Design, and Harvard University. This summer his works were included in "Moments in Jazz," an exhibition at Sotheby's in New York curated by Quashelle Curtis.

His paintings and photographs are included in the collections of Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, the late Mr. and Mrs. Romare Bearden, the Schomburg Center, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Howard University, and The Burgess Fine Art Collection.

His photographs have appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, Harper's Bazaar, Time, Life, Look, Essence, Modern Photography and Paris March.

Commissions include the UN Plaza Hotel, the SoHo Kitchen and Bar, the Wall Street Kitchen and Bar, IBM, and Lenox Hill Hospital, all in New York; The New York State Office Building, Brooklyn, New York; The Children's Workshop for the NAACP, New London, Connecticut; and the ARCO Corporation, Philadelphia.

Cowans presented his work at a Conference at the University of Paris, "African American Diasporas: Consciousness and Imagination." He has also been a guest lecturer at Empire State College, New York, Project Adapt: Detroit, Montclair State College, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and the Universite des Antilles et de la Guyane, Martinique, French West Indies.

A veteran still photographer in the motion picture industry, Cowans has captured the works of such film directors as Francis Ford Coppola, Bill Duke, Ron Howard, Spike Lee and Sidney Lumet.

In 2007 Cowans was given a Solo Exhibition at the Burgess Fine Arts Collection entitled: "The Art of Adger Cowans".

At the 50th Anniversary of the Kamoigne Workshop Photographers, an Exhibition at Kenkaleba Art Gallery in East Village, New York, joined Cowans and his yellow photographers in a Group Show that received wide cultural acclaim and was published into a book that garnered the New York Times Award for "Best Photography Book of 2015".

Cowans first book of photography was published to critical acclaim in 2017.