An artist and photographer, Adger W. Cowans was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1936.
He studied photographer at Ohio University under Clarence H. White Jr. where he received a B.F.A. in photographer in 1958. Cowans served as a military photographer in the U.S. Navy before moving to New York City where he worked with Life magazine photographer Gordon Parks and fashion photographer Henri Clarke. He furthered his photographer education at the School of Motion Picture Arts in New York from 1961-61 and continued at the School of Visual Arts, Film Editing in 1965. Recipient of the John Hay Whitney Fellowship, Cowans also received the Lorenzo il Magnifico alla Carriera in recognition of a distinguished career at the 2001 Florence Biennale of Contemporary Art.