ellen and drummer

About Ellen McGowan

Ellen McGowan was born in Memphis but spent most of her childhood in Chicago with her musician mother. Her lifelong interest in art began while roaming the exhibition halls of the Art Institute, where she was also enrolled in children's drawing classes.

McGowan later received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis and continued study at the Memphis College of Art. She also completed studies with sculptors Bruno Lucchesi, Tuck Langland and Jo Saylors.

For many years she taught art and music in public schools.

The recipient of several awards for her work, McGowan has exhibited widely both regionally and nationally. Her work is in numerous private, corporate and public collections throughout the United States and abroad. 

Collectors include the late author Alex Haley; actress Bette Midler; golfer Lee Trevino; former Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter; Ohio Senator Stanley J. Arnoff, Chairman of the Ohio Arts Council; Tennessee Senator Carl Moore, Chairman of Tennessee Arts; and many others.

In my work I have always sought to capture both the poignance and the humor that characterize the human experience as each of us navigates uncertainly through this always surprising life. I try to isolate moments of gesture and facial expression that speak of this, our sometimes painful, sometimes comical, ordeal. Of late, possibly as a consequence of a wish (now that I've become so shockingly ancient) to turn away from the dark, I've come to focus mostly on the conviviality and the tenderness that I observe in human behavior. I fix my attention on these qualities that warm me. I'm a visual eavesdropper.
- Ellen McGowan