Thursday, 4:50pm
10 June 2010

Civil rights in New York

frederico duarte
the events department
Design history
Visual culture

Two current exhibitions with images that ‘steered a drive for freedom’

I learned about two exhibitions on the civil rights movement currently showing in New York through Holland Cotter’s review in the New York Times, writes Frederico Duarte.

At the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the show ‘Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956-1968’ (until 11 August 2010) is, as Cotter remarks, an emotional narrative that exposes the injustice, the hate and the violence of a not so distant past – but also the steadfast and enduring spirit that helped to overcome it.

In Midtown, at the International Center for Photography (ICP) ‘For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights’ (until 12 September) is a sophisticated exhibition and a sensory delight. Through artefacts that range from Aunt Jemima syrup dispensers to Ebony magazine covers and from Paul Robeson to Archie Bunker, this show explores an impressive range of issues related to the portrayal of African-Americans in popular culture from the late 1940s to the mid-70s.

Cotter’s review connects the two exhibitions, though they’re in no way related in their inception or presentation; when you visit one you’re not informed about the other. For him, both shows try to address the questions of how, and why, the delivery of images that ‘steered a drive for freedom’ came about.

‘For All the World to See’ includes a content-rich website, an online film festival and other initiatives developed by two scholarly institutions – the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Top: Emerson Graphics: I Am a Man, 1968. Collection of Civil Rights Archive / CADVC-UMBC, Baltimore, Maryland. A memorial to Martin Luther King Jr.

Below: The Urban Negro Market Potential, designer unknown. Collection of Civil Rights Archive / CADVC-UMBC, Baltimore, Maryland.


Below: The Next Affair You Have, Make It Formal, Print advertisement, 1963, designer unknown. Collection of Civil Rights Archive / CADVC-UMBC, Baltimore, Maryland, Anonymous Gift, 2010.9.


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