Alternative Visions: The Photograph, Self-Representation, and Fact in Contemporary Art of the United States
Augustus Washington (1820/21-1875) was “the son of a South Asian immigrant” a formally enslaved black Virginian, according to this article published in The Dartmouth Alumni Magazine this spring. Washington studied at Dartmouth, entering with the class of 1847. There, on the Hanover, New Hampshire campus, Washington learned how to make daguerreotypes. Washington and Dempsey R. Fletcher were the only students of African descent at Dartmouth in 1843-44.
Washington’s portrait of John Brown (circa 1846-47) is well-known. Yet there are no confirmed images of Washington himself. Photo historians have been searching and writing about Washington for decades, and the published literature on Washington continues to grow.
“Advertisement from The Hartford Daily Courant, October 8, 1852. This ad shows the world having its picture taken at Washington’s studio.” – Image, Connecticut Historical Society
Wilson Jeremiah Moses’ Liberian Dreams: Back to Africa Narratives from the 1850s (Penn State University Press, 2010) provides the opportunity to hear Washington’s voice through his written words. Before his migration to Liberia in 1853, Washington wrote this letter to an US newspaper. In Liberia, Washington was a photographer, a sugar cane planter and landowner, and a politician. (Washington’s Dartmouth classmate, Dempsey R. Fletcher, mentioned above, also had lived in Liberia as boy and returned there after studying at Dartmouth.) The African Colonization Movement is a complex subject, and Washington’s images of its key figures helps us think about “what” Africa was and is.
I teach art history and art appreciation in the Department of Art and Design at Morehead State University in eastern Kentucky. Most of my students are first-generation college students, and many of them come from the economically-depressed counties within a short driving distance of my institution. Through in-class discussion and office hour chats, I have […]
Muslims have been woven into the fabric of New York since the city’s origins as New Amsterdam, and the Museum is happy to share highlights from our collection which shed light on this deep history in our current exhibition, Muslim in New York. The size and diversity of New York’s Muslim community has continued to […]
The Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design is pleased to announce a fellowship funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for an outstanding junior scholar who wishes to pursue a curatorial career. The Mellon Fellow will be fully integrated into the Museum’s Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. The Fellow will have access to the museum collections and research libraries in the region and will enjoy all the professional privileges of the museum’s staff. The Fellow will be expected to participate in strengthening the Museum’s engagement with the academic curricula at Brown University and RISD.
• Work with the two department curators to foster collaboration with faculty at RISD, Brown University, and area colleges to encourage greater use of the collection in classes and individual study.
• Supervise the department’s active study room and act as the primary liaison between the department and faculty teaching from the collections, including making regular presentations to classes.
• Become familiar with the collection’s 28,000 works on paper and undertake research in area of expertise, leading to an exhibition to be presented in the third year, preferably in collaboration with a faculty member from Brown and/or RISD. Assist with departmental exhibitions as assigned.
• Conduct research to accurately catalogue new acquisitions, answer queries about the collection, and interact with scholars, students, and the public on collection matters.
• Give presentations to docents, the general public, and other museum constituents on the collection and exhibitions.
• Travel with the department’s curators to explore potential acquisitions and to attend scholarly conferences and relevant exhibitions.
• Oversee use of and access to the departmental storage area and ensure the special care, security, and proper handling of collections.
• Train and direct student employees and interns as needed.
• Assist with additional departmental activities as assigned.
The Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellowship is a full-time, limited term (3-year) benefited position. Travel and research funds are available. The appointment will begin as soon as possible. Applicants who complete their applications by January 9, 2017 will be given full consideration.
Ph.D or ABD in Art History or related field required. The Fellow should have a demonstrated interest in and knowledge of the history of prints, drawings, or photographs. Strong commitment to object-based teaching. Ability to handle original works of art with care. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and the ability to be a team player in an active office environment.
Museum and/or teaching experience. Knowledge of a second language is highly desirable.
The successful candidate will be required to meet our pre-employment background screening requirements.
Photo of Makeda D. Best, Ph.D.(www.bampfa.org)
When Sojourner Truth declared that she sold the “shadow” (photographic portraits of herself) to support the “substance” (the causes of abolition and the rights of women), she recognized the power of images to shape opinion and create economic value. How did the former slave strategically deploy and circulate photography as a form of political activism? Join a conversation with UC Berkeley professors Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby (History of Art) and Leigh Raiford (African American Studies) and photographer/photography historian Makeda Best of the California College of the Arts on the uses to which photography has been put in the African American struggle for political change.
Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby is the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Arts and Humanities at UC Berkeley. Grigsby specializes in eighteenth- through early twentieth-century French and American art and visual and material culture, particularly in relation to the politics of race, slavery, and colonialism. She is the author of three books: Extremities: Painting Empire in Post-Revolutionary France (2002); Colossal: Engineering the Suez Canal, Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower and Panama Canal(2012); and Enduring Truths: Sojourner’s Shadows and Substance(2015).
Leigh Raiford is associate professor of African American Studies at UC Berkeley. She is the author of Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle (2011).
Makeda Best, assistant professor in Visual Studies at the California College of the Arts, is an historian of photography. She is currently revising a book on the Civil War–era photographer Alexander Gardner, and coediting a volume titled Conflict, Identity and Protest in American Art.
ACRAH’s photostream on Flickr.
Check out this photograph of a uhaul van featuring the underground railroad as part of a new advertising campaign. Discuss.
Call for papers for a special issue of Social Dynamics: A Journal of African Studies
African Photography: Realism and After
The place and meaning of photographs in Africa has shifted dramatically
over time, from colonial and ethnographic practices to radical new forms
of contemporary representation. Photographs circulate as documents, as
remnants in the aftermath of violence and dislocation, as both public
and private records of celebration, kinship and dwelling, and as
artworks. Photography offers a suggestive surface for engagements with
questions of both the imaginary and the real. This special issue of
Social Dynamics invites papers that explore the history, theory and
practice of photography across the continent.
Topics might include:
The role of portraits and family albums
Photographs of public figures
Photography and the history and memory of slavery
African photography and postcolonial modernity
Reading photographs as colonial documents
Photography and liberation struggles
Photography and national history
Local histories of photography
Art photography and imaginative transformation
Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words by the 22 February 2013 to:
Social Dynamics: A Journal of African Studies is a peer-reviewed journal
that is published three times a year by Taylor & Francis in electronic
and print format. The journal is based at the Centre for African
Studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is edited by
Louise Green and Kylie Thomas.
For more information about the journal see: