An activist and photographer involved early on with one of the leading black art collectives in Chicago, the AfriCobra movement. AfriCobra he says, strives to make art accessible and relatable to the average person on the street. Cowans is both artist and renowned photographer, working on over 30 motion pictures as well as numerous publications along the way.
He was influenced he says by mentor and the ultimate renaissance man, Gordon Parks, who took Cowans under his wing while working at Life magazine. Cowans expresses that the larger American culture will not celebrate African American artists until they celebrate themselves.