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Indepth Arts News:

"Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers"
2001-02-16 until 2001-04-29
Brooklyn Museum of Art
Brooklyn, NY, USA

Committed to the Image, one of the largest exhibitions of living African American photographers, will be on view at the Brooklyn Museum of Art from February 16 through April 29, 2001. It will include ninety-four photographers, with each represented by two works.

All of the artists in this exhibition were selected by a committee of four people, Anthony Barboza, founder of International Black Photographers; Beauford Smith, one of the founders of the Black Photographers Annual and Candid Photography; Orville Robertson, publisher and editor of the journal Fotophile and a freelance photographer and cinematographer; and Barbara Head Millstein, Curator of Photography at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the organizer of this exhibition. All four worked together for over two years reviewing many slides and prints for the exhibition. The primary criteria for selection were originality, standard of printing, social or historical significance, and subject matter.

The ninety-four African American contemporary photographers represented in this exhibition have used their cameras as tools of social commentary and personal and artistic exploration, bearing witness to changes in the world over the past fifty years. These uncompromising, thought-provoking, often highly politicized images cover such subjects as the daily lives of peop le of African descent; powerful moments during the battle for Civil Rights; the history of black musicianship; and the influence of African American art, literature, and ideals on beauty on society at large. African American artists, philosophers, writers, poets, musicians, politicians, and sports heroes are featured throughout. Some of the images address such issues as African American standing within society and their search for identity in an often-inhospitable landscape.

The photographers featured, all working today and most of them at the height of their productivity, come from every region of the United States; together, their work represents and explores the variety of people of African descent in communities across the nation and around the world.

The photographs in the exhibition give expression to many and varied subjects-from the more traditional image of the struggles of the Civil Rights movement such as Ernest Wither's Martin Luther King, Jr. Confronted by the Police at Medgar Evers' Funeral to more recent photographs by younger photographers. The exhibit also explores technical and aesthetic innovations like Cynthia Wiggins' Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful. Many photographs have political themes such as the work of Salimah Ali, Kwame Brathwaite, and Ozier Muhammad, others explore the emergence of a black middle class like Jeffrey Henson Scales' American Gothic.

The exhibition includes work by seasoned photographers such as Gordon Parks, Carrie Mae Weems, and Albert Chong as well as a generation of younger artists, among them Fern Logan, Stephen Marc, Oggi Ogburn, Accra Shepp, and Budd Williams.

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