William & Mary

Swem Library obtains photography book collection from DC art gallery owner

  • Kathleen Ewing
    Kathleen Ewing  Kathleen Ewing is a prominent member of the D.C. and New York arts scene.  Photo courtesy of Swem Library
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Swem Library recently obtained a collection of photography books from Kathleen Ewing, a prominent member of the D.C. and New York arts scene. 

“The collection, which covers topics ranging from daguerreotypes to Ansel Adams, is a major contribution to the library’s resources, and allows us to better support the College’s new photography curriculum,” said Stephen Clark, Swem’s collections strategist.

In addition to books, the collection includes exhibition catalogs, historical treatises and, of course, photographs. With more than 300 items, it is Swem’s largest collection on photography.

Ewing is the owner/director of the Kathleen Ewing Gallery in Washington, D.C. The gallery began in 1976 when Ewing decided to represent a small group of D.C. contemporary photographers. Soon the gallery opened its first public space in an abandoned warehouse on the Georgetown waterfront and began to exhibit both local and national photographers. During this time she helped found the Association of International Photography Art Dealers, an organization she would lead for more than two decades, and launch the association's annual New York City fair.

In 1983, the Ewing Gallery relocated to the thriving art gallery district of Dupont Circle, expanding its inventory and maintaining a regular schedule of exhibitions open to the public, featuring emerging, contemporary and established photographers. Ewing closed the public gallery space in 2009 to return to private practice. As a private dealer, she works with clients, collectors, corporate collections and museums to promote fine art photography, in addition to displaying a rotating exhibit of works on the walls of her D.C. townhouse.

Eliot Dudik, visiting assistant photography professor, was instrumental in obtaining the collection for Swem. He joined William & Mary in summer 2014 to develop a photography program within the Department of Art & Art History.

“Faculty are instrumental in helping us identify collection gaps when new academic programs are adopted. Being able to acquire a comprehensive collection like this one is a fantastic opportunity, and we are delighted to have it for our students and faculty,” said Dean of University Libraries Carrie Cooper.

“Having a strong selection of photographic books available to students at William & Mary is vitally important for the growth of their individual visions and understanding how they fit into the dynamic history of photography,” Dudik added.

One of his friends in the photo industry, knowing that Dudik was building W&M’s first photography program, suggested Ewing contact Dudik about her collection.

“The collection is very strong in the history of photography, especially in the turn-of-the-century Pictorialist movement, giving us a good base to build on as we add more volumes by contemporary artists,” said Dudik.

A display of items from the collection is located in Swem’s lobby. To find a full listing of materials in the collection, search “Kathleen Ewing” in the library catalog.