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Photography by Dan Eldon Folds into American Art Exhibition at CRMA

December 19, 2013
Two entire galleries have been dismantled and a new installation has taken their place at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (CRMA). For the exhibition The Restless Spirit: American Art from the Collection, a new curatorial approach allows for themes to change on a periodic basis – approximately every six to eight months. Initial themes were The Nation Worships, The Nation Settles, and The Nation Expands. New installations on the themes of The Nation Votes and The Nation Wars are under way.

Part of the installation commenting on war are two galleries dedicated to the work of photographer Dan Eldon. Born in 1970 in London, England, Eldon moved to Kenya with his family when he was seven.  In 1982, Kenya experienced a coup and the 12-year-old Dan Eldon accompanied his mother, Cedar Rapids native Kathy Eldon, on her journalism assignments.  The younger Eldon began taking a number of photographs which were published in area newspapers.  As a teenager, he would visit Cedar Rapids most every year to spend the summer with his grandparents, Russell and Louise Knapp.  After graduating from the International School of Kenya, Eldon studied at various universities, including Cornell College and the University of California, Los Angeles.  He would spend his college summers traveling throughout the world as a part of several humanitarian projects, many of his own creation.  

During the summer of 1992, as the civil war and famine in Somalia raged, Eldon flew to refugee camps in Kenya.  The international news agency Reuters spotted his photographic work and he was soon working for the company, documenting the increasingly desperate situation in Somalia.  Eldon received international recognition for these sensitive photographs during the early years of the Somali Civil War.  Throughout 1992 and 1993, Dan Eldon covered life in the Somali refugee camps in Kenya and life in war-torn Mogadishu.  Featured in Newsweek, his photographs helped to increase awareness of the conflict. Unfortunately, it was in the midst of this conflict that Eldon and other journalists were attacked and stoned to death. This event led directly into the Battle of Mogadishu, the setting of the 2001 film Black Hawk Down.  The civil war is ongoing, but recent developments have the seen the return of a stable and permanent central government in Mogadishu.

Dan Eldon’s work will be the subject of CRMA’s next monthly Art Bites, a free 30 minute discussion open to the public, on Wednesday, January 8 at 12:15 p.m.

The Restless Spirit: American Art from the Collection has been made possible in part by the Henry Luce Foundation’s American Art Renewal Fund and a Program Fund Grant of The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.