Light Work to host four exhibitions in celebration of Black History Month
Light Work to host four exhibitions in celebration of Black History MonthJanuary 08, 2007Jessica Heckmanjhheckma@syr.edu
Light Work will host four exhibitions in celebration of Black History Month. The first, featuring photographs by William Earle Williams, will be on display at the Light Work Gallery, 316 Waverly Ave. Three additional exhibitions include more work by Williams at the Community Folk Art Center, 805 E. Genesee St.; work by Coriana Close in the Panasci Lounge at the Hildegarde and J. Myer Schine Student Center; and selections examining diversity and identity from the Light Work permanent collection at the Robert B. Menschel Media Center in the Schine Student Center. All exhibitions are free and open to the public.
“Unsung Heroes: African American Soldiers in the Civil War” Photographs by William Earle WilliamsJan. 16-March 16Light Work Gallery
Light Work will host a gallery reception and artist lecture featuring Williams Thursday, Feb. 1, at 5 p.m. The event kicks off a month-long celebration of Black History Month at SU, which includes numerous speakers and programs.
Until the release of the motion picture “Glory” in 1989, it was little known that more than 180,000 black soldiers served in the Civil War. The exhibition “Unsung Heroes: African American Soldiers in the Civil War” features more than 40 stunning black-and-white photographs by Williams. The images call attention to the sites made special through these soldiers’ contributions, so that their story becomes part of the American story. Williams has been pursuing the series for more than 10 years, photographing significant Civil War sites in both the South and North, recording historically recognizable and forgotten locations.
“Too often the historical and artistic legacy of black accomplishment is ignored. As an artist, the memory of these soldiers has inspired my artistic imagination,” Williams says. “The ground they fought on is sacred and an inspiration for all Americans. These sites dispel the myth that blacks were given their citizenship and rights after the Civil War without having fought for and earned them.”
Williams photographs sites where black soldiers trained, fought or lost their lives. These locations, along with images significant to the Underground Railroad, have often been overlooked and are rarely photographed. His photographs are rich in history, and he has spent considerable time researching the locations depicted in each image. The sites are often forgotten and unmarked — the viewer would not immediately realize the historic importance of these places without his research.
Williams holds a B.A. in history from Hamilton College and an M.F.A. in fine arts from Yale University. He has been a professor of fine arts at Haverford College since 1978 and a curator of photography since 1979.
Also on view at Light Work at this time is the Transmedia Photography Annual exhibition, featuring the work of seniors and graduate students in the Department of Transmedia in SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.
Gallery hours are Sunday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call Light Work at (315) 443-1300.
“Underground Railroad Made Visible”Photographs by William Earle WilliamsJan. 16-March 8Community Folk Art Center
The images in this exhibition depict various sites on the Underground Railroad. Williams participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in summer 2003 and used his residency in Syracuse to explore and photograph the many Underground Railroad sites in Central New York. He was particularly moved by a local story, commonly referred to as the Jerry Rescue. William “Jerry” Henry, a former slave from Missouri, was arrested in 1851 in Syracuse. That night, local abolitionists broke into the jail and rescued him. It was the boldest move in history by local abolitionists and allowed Jerry to continue on the Underground Railroad to Canada. The story of the Jerry Rescue inspired Williams to photograph the journey to freedom that many experienced on the Underground Railroad.
“A Journey Towards Hope: Underground Railroad Sites in Oberlin, Ohio”Photographs by Coriana CloseFeb. 1-March 1Panasci Lounge, Schine Student Center
This exhibition captures the history of Oberlin, Ohio’s Underground Railroad. The images include large-format color photographs of buildings in Oberlin that were essential to the abolitionist movement. The photographs were taken at night with long exposure times and convey a mixture of danger and promised safety.
“My photography is meant to serve not only as a document, but also a reminder of what took place right here in Oberlin in the not-so-distant past,” Close says. “In the darkness of slavery, Oberlin was a shining light, a candle in the distance symbolizing freedom.”
“Un/Common Threads: Selections from the Light Work Collection”Jan. 16-April 19Robert B. Menschel Photography Gallery, Schine Student Center
This exhibition, curated by SU graduate student Kaylen Williams, features images from the Light Work Collection. The work selected explores how contemporary artists approach issues of ethnic and cultural identity. The exhibition features images in which the photographers visually explore the concept of identity by either looking at their own culture or that of their subjects. The images focus on social constructs including race, gender, ethnicity, cultural heritage, sexuality and class.