Representing: Vernacular Photographs of, by, and for African Americans
Sunday, December 3, 2017
Portland Art Museum 1219 S.W. Park Ave., Portland, OR 97205
"This newly-curated exhibition of personal and family photography goes as far back as the turn of the 20th century. The show prominently features images from a family album gifted by the estate of a prominent North Portland couple, Carl and Mercedes Deiz. Carl was a Tuskegee Airman during World War II and Mercedes was the first black woman to be admitted to the Oregon State Bar. More contemporary images, dated through 1990, were snapped by Peter J. Cohen and culled from the personal collection of Zun Lee to show 'glimpses of daily life and leisure culture.'" – Oregon Arts Watch
This summer, Representing will bring together studio portraits from an important North Portland family album, vernacular snapshots, and Polaroids to demonstrate the rich diversity of African-American life and experience from the late 1800s through the 1990s. Throughout the history of photography, the representation of African Americans has been problematic and, until recently, understudied. During the 19th and 20th centuries, negative depictions of African Americans published in the popular press distorted white audiences’ understanding of black life and culture. Personal, everyday photographs made by, for, and of African Americans, rarely seen by wider audiences, serve as important counter-images to the stereotypical media portrayals of the time.