About Allen Downs

"Unlike the strict documentary photographer, I am concerned with pictorial structure over subject matter, but unlike the pure abstractionist, I do make use of the subjects in their natural relationships keeping representational quality". --Allen Downs


Allen Downs earned an MA degree in painting and printmaking from the State University of Iowa in 1940 and also became an accomplished photographer and filmmaker. He was a professor of photography and film at the University of Minnesota from 1950 through 1977 where he established the Film Department in 1952. Professor Downs worked with scores of student artists, both in the Twin Cities and across the United States.

In 1972, Allen Downs founded the Winter Quarter in Mexico Program. Under the guidance of experienced teachers, and in collaboration with Mexican artists, students learned first-hand both the specific art and craft techniques and the Mexican cultural context in which those arts were developed. Students practiced ceramics, drawing, film, metalwork, photography, watercolor, and weaving within the cultural context of Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca. Professor Downs managed this program from 1972 to 1976.

Throughout four decades, Professor Downs brought his love for photography and film alive in award-winning films, including The Flight of the Teal in 1962. His film Swamp, was awarded the Gold Medallion, Screen Producers and Look Magazine College Competition. This film and 5 others by Downs were screened at Walker Art Center in March 1957. He divided his time in his later years between Minnesota and Mexico. In recognition of the extraordinary impact of Allen Downs' work, the University of Minnesota established the Allen Downs Photography and Moving Image Fellowship in his name to support graduate art students majoring in photography or film/video.



Allen Downs Life and Work: Winter Quarter in Mexico was organized by the Katherine E. Nash Gallery and curated by Linda Passon-McNally and Matt Bakkom. The exhibition and related events are presented in collaboration with the Consulado de México. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Thanks to the UMN Department of Art and the Consulate of Mexico.

Recent Entries

News - 2015
What's Happening: The Allen Downs Project continues to respond to peoples' interest and inquiries. Stay tuned for updates and unfolding…
Walker Art's Mediatheque features films in May 2015
Four of Allen Downs' films in the Walker Art Center's Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection are now at your fingertips for…
Allen Downs Project on MNoriginal online
A wonderful segment just released on the Allen Downs' Winter Quarter exhibit is now available on TPT's companion website, www.mnoriginal.org!http://www.mnoriginal.org/episode/504-lea-sorrentino-wits/allen-downs-project/Visitors to…