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The photography work of Tom Owens, the longtime director of the Video and Photography Center, has captured the attention of several art aficionados lately.

Two photographs recently won in the Arts & Culture Alliance National Juried Exhibition. About forty pieces were chosen from more than 350 entries. The exhibition of Southern artists was held throughout the month of February in downtown’s Emporium Center gallery. Owens took both pictures while on a UT trip. He and Assistant Director Russ Hollingsworth chronicled the UT Chamber Singers’ summer tour 2012 across Ireland. The Chamber Singers performed in many of the country’s most famous and breathtaking cathedrals.

"Long Room"
“Long Room”

The “Long Room” photo was taken inside the Trinity College Library in Dublin. The largest library in Ireland, it is the permanent home to the famous Book of Kells. Owens also captured the ominous feeling of the Knowth Ancient Tomb, a prehistoric burial site in the valley of Ireland’s River Boyne.

Knowth Ancient Tomb
Knowth Ancient Tomb

Several of his photographs can now be seen around Knoxville. A black and white abstract photograph is part of the “Arts in the Airport” exhibit through April 9. Sponsored by the Knoxville Airport Authority (McGhee Tyson Airport) and the Arts & Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville, this new exhibition features selected work from forty artists of the East Tennessee region. Another shot, of the L& N Building in downtown Knoxville is part of a sixth-month Mayors’ Show, on the sixth floor of the City County Building. Organized by the Arts & Culture Alliance, the exhibition features local artists in and near the offices of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and County Mayor Tim Burchett.

Art in Airport winner
Owens’ “Arts in the Airport” winning photo.

Owens has been taking pictures for work and play for more than forty-five years. He started taking shots around campus and in the mountains in 1968 while learning from a friend, Don Dudenbostel, who worked for the Daily Beacon.

He says he still loves the element of surprise involved with the work.

“You see something you think will make this really great picture and maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. Then something you shot but you didn’t really think much about turns out to be something really great. And it always looks different after you print it,” he said.

Owens began working at UT in 1985. He began directing Video and Photography—which is part of the Office of Communications and Marketing—in 1999.

L&N Building
L&N Building

He recently completed a small show that featured a collection of architecture, landscapes, and portraits at the Golden Roast on Melrose Place, his favorite coffee shop. He is now gearing up to collaborate with his friend Marianne Woodside. Woodside, a professor of educational psychology, is also an artist, and her work is mostly color abstract photography. The show is set to open August 1 at the Emporium Center.

A Kingsport, Tennessee, native, Owens earned his undergraduate degree in education from UT and two master’s degrees from Indiana University.

When not at work or out taking pictures, he enjoys hiking, reading, and running. He and his wife, Susan, have one daughter, Katie, who is a recent UT graduate.

To see the photos and videos of the Chamber Singers’ Ireland tour, click here.