Andrew Borowiec, Photographer
2006 MID-CAREER AWARD FOR VISUAL ARTS
There is a quiet majesty in the black-and-white images of Andrew Borowiec, a photographer who
has captured the social landscape of factory towns in series of images
along the Ohio River, the Gulf Coast and Cleveland’s industrial
landscape. In images devoid of people, Borowiec suggests the human
spirit that thrives in less-than-ideal environments.
in New York in 1956, Borowiec spent his early years in Europe and North
Africa, diverse places that honed his eye for the changing physical and
social landscape. He received his BA from Haverford College in 1979
and his MFA in photography from Yale University in 1982. He has been
a professor at the University of Akron since 1984, serving as director
of the Mary Schiller Myers School of Art from 1990 to 1995.
Borowiec places himself squarely in a tradition of American photography that “seeks
to reveal cultural patterns and truths through the precise description
of real places.” Those places—such as Moscow, Ohio, and Wheeling, West
Virginia, where rust prevails and industry is dead or dying—comprise
the landscapes in the book Along the Ohio (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000).
1999 to 2003, he made a series of images of some of the most polluted
landscapes in the country: the Gulf Coast in East Texas and Louisiana.
In those images he conveys “the dizzying, yet meticulously ordered
spaces, the underlying sense of danger, and the strange beauty of those
carefully crafted, man-made environments” of chemical plants, oil
refineries, power plants and ports. Borowiec’s Gulf Coast photographs
were published in Industrial Perspective: Photographs of the Gulf Coast (Center for American Places).
familiar are his photographs of Cleveland’s industrial landscape,
created in 2002 for the George Gund Foundation’s annual report: ice
formations on Stones Levee with the Terminal Tower in the background,
or the curving pipes of ISG’s east side steel operation. In all of
these works, Borowiec suggests the uneasy relationship we humans have
with often monstrous constructions that serve our overwhelming need for
and humane images, in combination with our contemporary compulsion to
push past the past, make his work especially appealing. They have been
exhibited widely and are in the collections of the Library of Congress,
the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the
Cleveland Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Photography,