Award-winning American photographer Dan Powell is represented in The Brinton Museum’s permanent collection with 84 of his black and white photographs which the artist gifted to the museum in 2021. During his career, from the late 1970s to the present, Powell made photographs of studio still-life constructions, the American West, and many subjects in Europe ranging from the architecture of the Grand Palais in Brussels to tourists on the Piazza San Marco in Venice. Given The Brinton’s emphasis on the American West, Powell made a selection from his career’s work focusing on the landscapes of California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. As he has said, his artistic interest has been “the points of rupture where humans meet nature”, where the sheer beauty of open spaces shares the stage with drainage pipes and a wall, or a café sign with the single word ‘Lose’ in front of the King’s Club bar in Caldwell, Idaho.
Dan Powell grew up in Central Washington and speaks lovingly about The Roza, a valley of desert and farmland situated between the Rattlesnake and Horse Heaven Hills, which run along either side of the Yakima Valley. Like home for all of us, these kinds of experiences stay with us throughout our lives. It is what shaped his vision in photographing western lands, their vast openness and endless skies. Through his eyes, seemingly “ordinary” scenes are heightened and clarified in meaning. Through his love for the American West, we are all encouraged to see it in a richer and deeper way.
Now retired, Powell held a tenured position in the Department of Art/Photography, School of Architecture and Allied Arts, at the University of Oregon in Eugene. He is the recipient of numerous grants, fellowships, and exhibition awards and is represented in numerous public and private collections. In 2012, he was given the prestigious Honored Educator Award by the Northwest Region Society for Photographic Education. This award recognizes significant lifetime contributions to the field of photographic education through artistic production, classroom teaching, writing, publishing, and other areas of professional practice. Powell’s definitive archive is held by the University of Oregon Library, in Eugene.