Two powerful local exhibitions on view this fall bring the Black Experience face-to-face with audiences up close, seeing how 180+ years of photographic images offer a painfully slow recognition of our shared humanity. Even this month there is a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, together with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, alongside the iconic power of photographs taken that day.
“I Am Seen …Therefore I Am” at the Wadsworth Museum in Hartford, CT through September 24, 2023
At this exhibit we begin to recognize the power of photography as seen through the eyes of Frederick Douglass, the most photographed person in the 19th century—by design; there are over 160 known portraits of him. Douglass knew that his “own picture—the serious, dignified grace of it, always well-groomed, stoic, and finely dressed was a counter-strike to the degrading images of enslaved Black people that permeated American life, mawkish caricatures of minstrels, or photographs of stone-faced laborers depleted and in tatters. For Americans to think of Black people differently, he reasoned, they would first need to see them as such.” (https://tinyurl.com/27p9b9td)