Maggie and Orbs by Emmet Gowin.


A spiritual vision comes into focus this fall with “A Shared Elegy,” a joint photography exhibit by the Indiana University Eskenazi Museum of Art and the IU Grunwald Gallery of Art. The exhibit features the work of two pairs of photographers who share both profession and pedigree: Elijah Gowin and his father, Emmet Gowin; and IU Professor Osamu James Nakagawa and his late uncle, Takayuki Ogawa.

Nakagawa recalls how the idea for the exhibit came to be: “Elijah and I were at a conference a few years ago, having a beer, and I asked, ‘Is it possible we could have a show together with a spiritual theme?’”He adds, “That’s where I really connect with Elijah’s work—to visualize things you can’t see.”

The show’s title was suggested by Emmet Gowin, Nakagawa says. “I made a small book to figure out the sequence of the photographs,” he explains. “You almost don’t know which image is whose—they start to weave together. I sent it to Elijah, who sent it on to Emmet. Emmet told Elijah, ‘Maybe this is a shared elegy.’”

All three living photographers will attend the exhibit’s opening symposium. Emmet Gowin will speak, and a panel discussion will include visiting photography experts. Taken mostly in black and white, the images vary from small, intimate pictures to large grids of related photographs. Almost everything in the exhibit was loaned by the photographers themselves; Nakagawa brought his uncle’s work from Japan.

“The theme is really interesting, things everyone can relate to—the cycle of life, birth, and death, and the joyful moments, too,” observes Betsy Stirratt, founding director of the Grunwald Gallery.

David Brenneman, director of the Eskenazi, has wanted the museum to have a presence in the community while it is closed for major renovations. “The stars aligned with the Eskenazi Museum being able to help,” Stirratt says. The Eskenazi Museum is assisting with funding, support, and organization. Stirratt and museum staff have made a 112-page coffee table book for the exhibit, published by IU Press.

The exhibit will be at the Grunwald Gallery October 13 through November 16 and may later travel to Japan.