Table of Contents

Brush-Toned Still Lifes

Jewish North Africa


Vestiges of Rome

Re-Visioning Antiquites

Portfolios Index

Images of Jewish Morocco I '93

Jewish Sites of Cairo and Alexandria '94

Images of Jewish Morocco II '95

Tunisia '97

About the Jewish North African Portfolios

About the Prints

About the Artist



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About the Artist

D. R. Cowles was born in Boston in 1950 and began teaching himself large-format photography as a high school student. Later his interest turned to film. He studied first at Boston's School of the Museum of Fine Arts, then at New York University's Graduate Institute for Film and Television, working simultaneously as a cameraman in the documentary film trade. During this period he attended a number of lectures by Roberto Rosselini, of whom he has said: "I was deeply moved by something Rosselini told us: that the medium of dramatic film no longer worked for him because he felt now a great urgency to describe the world exactly as it is, almost scientifically, not to dramatize it. He awoke in me a great interest to study history and philosophy, disciplines I had never studied. Rosselini's statement has served as my guiding principle: to see what is really there and to record it as it is, without dramatizing or striving for effect."

In 1976 Cowles moved to Montreal and studied European and Jewish history at Concordia University. Returning to still photography in the 1980s, he again began working in large format and experimenting with older printing processes. In 1992 he began researching a large work that would fuse the historical with the photographic, and in 1993 made the first of numerous trips to North Africa to document remaining Jewish sites (synagogues, cemeteries, and shrines) in Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia. Four Portfolios, completed in 1997, have been made to represent this work. In the course of this project, as time allowed, Cowles also photographed Islamic sites, traditional Moroccan architecture, Roman ruins, and North African landscapes.

Cowles' work is represented in numerous collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Tel Aviv Museum, and the Jewish Museum of Casablanca.