How many billboards?
Eileen Cowin
Photo: Gerard Smulevich

Eileen Cowin

The works of photographer and video artist Eileen Cowin range from dramatic photo tableaux to installations and multi-channel videos. Cowin's conceptual approach to photography and video has not diminished her interest in human emotion, memory, or the philosophy of sentimentality. Her diverse body of work includes a commissioned billboard for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's expansive exhibition Made in California (2000). That billboard featured a poignant diptych called Yearning for Perfection II. In the first image two hands hold a photograph of a seascape; in the second a woman, her back to the camera, stands facing the sea. That image is a stark contrast to her contribution to How Many Billboards?. For the current exhibition, Cowin combines a cropped face with a single line of text. From the extreme right we see the partial profile of a white man with his mouth open. The words "I love you too," printed in pink, float in the black expanse of the background. At billboard scale, the image is commanding yet ambiguous. Cowin elevates a familiar phrase to the point where we become aware of how subtle variations in tone and facial expression can drastically change a statement that seems so universal. The piece reveals Cowin's interest in both intimacy and the disintegrating boundaries between public and private space.
By Lisa Henry

LOCATION: Westwood Blvd, south of Olympic Blvd, on the east side of the street, facing north.
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Eileen Cowin (b. 1947)
Eileen Cowin's photographs and videos investigate the relationship between image and text. Cowin's works have been featured in numerous exhibitions throughout Europe, Japan, and the United States, including Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She studied with Aaron Siskind and Arthur Siegel at the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, where she earned an MS in photography.

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