John E. Dowell: Paths to Freedom

September 10 – December 18, 2022

John E. Dowell: Paths to Freedom Paths to Freedom presents 26 photographs, an immersive installation, and soundscape by Philadelphia artist John E. Dowell. Staged in cotton fields at night, Dowell’s photographs conjure the spirits of his enslaved ancestors as they sought freedom, imagining the landscape they encountered in that search.  As Dowell notes in his artist statement this body of work responds to an auditory apparition, he experienced in 2017 while looking at a cotton field and contemplating his ancestral legacy of slavery: “Would you have had the courage, the strength, the wisdom to break for freedom?”

The largest of Dowell’s meticulously rendered panoramic photographs, Night Before the Run, is monumental in scale, measuring over six feet. The exhibition unfolds as a series of signs and ancestral visions through the darkness towards freedom.

Following the Sound, 2020
Size: 27”x 34”
Medium: Photography, Archival Ink Jet Print on Hahnemüehle Photo Rag
Edition Size: 6


John E. Dowell

John E. Dowell, Jr., (born 1941) is an artist and master-printer. For more than four decades, Dowell’s fine art prints, paintings and photographs have been featured in more than 50 one-person exhibitions and represented in the permanent collections of 70 museum and public collections.  Dowell is a Philadelphia native and Professor Emeritus of Printmaking at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University.  Dowell was trained as a master printer at the Tamarind Lithographic Workshop in the 1960’s.  In the 1980’s Dowell used his works on paper as scores for music concerts.  Most recently, Dowell has been working on a large body of photographs illuminating histories of the Black American experience.