On view display from 14 September 2018 – 3 February 2019, Brooklyn Museum's new exhibit Soul of a Nation – Art in the Age of Black Power features over 150 works by more than 60 artists. Here, we feature some of the photographic works included in the exhibition, which exist not only to document what happened in the US during this time, but also as meaningful pieces of art.
This exhibition aims to "look at a broad spectrum of work by African American artists from 1963 to 1983, one of the most politically, socially, and aesthetically revolutionary periods in American history." Works are organized into region, highlighting how despite experiencing different events, people in across the country were ultimately fighting for the same rights.
Lorraine O'Grady's series Art Is..., shot at Harlem's African-American Day Parade in September of 1983, came to life when O'Grady wanted to make a piece about the meaning of art. With the help of the New York State Council of the Arts, she created a "9 x 15 ft. antique-styled gold frame mounted on a gold-skirted float [that] moved slowly up Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, framing everything it passed as art." O'Grady then documented this to show a sense of freedom and strength in that community.
Dawoud Bey is a photographer from New York City who began his career in 1975 with a series of photographs called Harlem, USA. These works were later exhibited in his first one-person exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979.
Born in Harlem in 1919, Roy DeCarava was placed straight into the Harlem Renaissance, when the artistic and creative achievements of African-Americans in the area were supported and flourishing. After making posters for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), DeCarava picked up a camera. He aimed to document the Harlem neighborhoods surrounding him. DeCarava wanted the photographs simply to be about "black people...not being portrayed in a serious and artistic way."
Hailing from Detroit, Ming Smith is best known for her casual portraits of famous black figures including Alvin Ailey and Nina Simone. Her early process was all about shooting fast, and experimenting with developing and printing techniques during post-processing.
As well as photographs like this featured above, this exhibition includes a wide variety of mediums such as painting, sculpture and video. Find more information about the exhibit here, including visiting hours and admissions here.
All photos provided by the Brooklyn Museum.