Profile: John E. Dowell Jr (1941-)

John Edward Dowell Jr. is an American printmaker, etcher, lithographer, painter, and professor of printmaking at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University.

Life and education

Dowell was born in Philadelphia and grew up in a housing project there. As a child, he explored art with his brother by copying the work in Lone Ranger comics.

He studied at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, where he was mentored by ceramist Rudolf Staffel. His work is influenced by abstract expressionists Willem de Kooning, Philip Guston, and Jackson Pollock and jazz musicians such as Miles Davis, Archie Shepp, and Cecil Taylor.

While visiting Bahia, Brazil in 1988, Dowell explored interest in traditional African religions. He later converted to the voodoo religion, but later was defrocked from the Voodoo priesthood.


Dowell is well known for works keyed to music. He often focuses on abstract visual representations of poetry and music, notably jazz. In the late 1980s, he focused on art related to the voodoo religion. These works were inspired by voodoo forces and spirits.

Dowell has received many awards for his work, including the James Van Der Zee award from the Brandywine Workshop and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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