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The McEwen Photographic Studio

By trchambers(47)

When I recall "The McEwen Photographic Studio", I can't help but having profound memories of a process that I consider significant for me, my art students [school leavers] and the late Frank McEwen. When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zimbabwe, Africa, I served as a curator for the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, and I also initiated and taught this photography workshop under the namesake of the first director of the gallery. My Peace Corps Tour lasted three years, 1993-1995.

Frank McEwen was an artist, teacher, administrator, and the founding director of the National Gallery of Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe], 1956-1973. I received a letter from him just a few months before his death [January 15, 1994] thanking me for using his name as the title of the photography workshop. He mentioned that this namesake for the workshop was the first recognition that he had received for his contributions as director of the gallery.

He had friendships with Brancusi, Braque, Matisse, Picasso and Leger. He also absorbed the great respect of these artists for the teachings of Gustave Moreau, who had believed in drawing out of people an art which was individual to themselves. McEwen believed the same way, and he started the Shona [Zimbabwean] sculpture [stone] movement for Black Africans in the late 1950s at the gallery. When I was there in the early 1990s, I was fortunate to work with these sculptures as a part of the Permanent Collection. Read more about Frank McEwen.

Over this three-year period, the art students' images were exhibited as "Moments In Time" (1993), "Moments In Time II" (1994) and "Moments In Time III" (1995) at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. The U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe officially opened the exhibitions.

Some news coverage states: "A U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, Mr. Tom R. Chambers, has introduced photography as part of the 1993 curriculum for the BAT (Art) Workshop School. The workshop is an affiliate of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. Mr. Chambers said that this is the first time the medium of photography has been introduced into the Workshop School curriculum as a serious tool for self-expression. He said that the fine arts/documentary photography program was named The McEwen Photographic Studio after the first director of the National Gallery and in recognition of his workshop activities for artists during the 1950s and 1960s. Mr. Chambers is currently teaching twelve second-year A-level art students at the workshop." [Photography added to curriculum, The Herald, Harare, Zimbabwe, May 17, 1993].

The McEwen Photographic Studio

Curatorial work at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe

Frank McEwen

Tom R. Chambers

This Blog Post has been read 10 times.
Posted to ProBlogs.com on Monday, January 01, 2007
View other posts by trchambers

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