Portfolio LensWork, No. 49 Oct-Nov 2003

D. R. Cowles (pronounced Coles) was born in Boston in 1950, and as a high school student began teaching himself large-format photography. Later, his interests turned to film, and he attended Boston's School of the Museum of Fine Arts, then New York University's Graduate Institute for Film and Television. During this time he worked as a cameraman in the documentary film trade. As a student, he was deeply inspired by a number of lectures by filmmaker Roberto Rossellini, who awoke in him a great interest to study history and philosophy, and 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 switched to printing-out paper because of a sensitivity to darkroom chemicals. POP minimized darkroom time, but demanded an image-sized negative. For this reason he began working in 8 x 10.

In 1992 Cowles began researching a large work that would fuse his historical and photographic interests, 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, he also photographed Islamic sites, traditional Moroccan architecture, Roman ruins, and North African Landscapes.

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

Cowles has a studio and gallery in Montreal, Canada, where he lives with his wife, poet and writer Robyn Sarah.

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Table of Contents | Brush-Toned Still Lifes | Jewish North Africa | Morocco | 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
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