A Shared Elegy

A Shared Elegy presents two pairs of photographers connected by family ties: Osamu James Nakagawa and his uncle, Takayuki Ogawa; and Elijah Gowin and his father, Emmet Gowin. The photographers present unique but overlapping visions while recording family histories.

Nakagawa and uncle Ogawa each draw upon the Japanese tradition of honoring family elders. Family heritage and home in Virginia have inspired the Gowins to make photographs that depict the intimate and hallowed nature of the world. These photographs compel us to reflect and consider our place in the cycle of life.

A collaboration between the Grunwald Gallery and the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University, this exhibition catalogue juxtaposes rich imagery with discussions about the artists and their aesthetic approaches to photography.

Gama Caves

How does one take photographs in the dark? And what then, emerges from the darkness? Osamu James Nakagawa’s project GAMA, takes the viewer inside Okinawan caves where people sought refuge during World War II. Through the darkness, shapes and figures emerge, both mysterious and ominous. Indistinguishable forms morph between flesh and stone, and vines become veins.

Nakagawa, whose own cultural identity bridges Japan and America and who is married to an Okinawan, has been pulled back and forth between these two cultures, an experience that mirrors Okinawan history. Coming face to face with this place is akin to confronting his own personal history. We may see these works as a personal dialogue between the artist and Okinawa as he strives to give light and form to memories that have long been veiled in the darkness of the caves.

“Nakagawa’s images introduce specific places and provoke the viewer’s imagination as to what happened in their interiors, stained by nature, time, rituals, and history. I agree with him that these haunting and haunted places and their various pasts should not be jettisoned from Japanese histories or consciousness.”

—Anne Wilkes Tucker


Osamu James Nakagawa's new images center on the island of Okinawa and its 'bantas,' the precipitous and breathtaking cliffs that still bear the scars of the intense battles waged during the Second World War.

“For years I have carried with me a vivid memory of the first time I stood atop these cliffs - a memory of beauty in the endless blue expanse of sea and sky intensified by the fearsome height and history that met my downward gaze.

Utilizing digital juxtaposition and shifting perspective, Nakagawa's views of the cliffs serve as pictorial metaphor for the tension between fear and beauty."

- Esa Epstein, Executive Director, SepiaEYE