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MU photography exhibit celebrates Black History Month

Friday, February 5, 2010 | 6:29 p.m. CST; updated 11:31 a.m. CST, Monday, February 8, 2010
“View from Cemetery Hill” is a photo taken by Howard Sochurek for the first Missouri Press Workshop in 1949 in Columbia. Its caption reads:

"In a 1949 article for The Quill, Otha Spencer, a participant at the first Missouri Photo Workshop, described Columbia: 'Instead of being a simple college town … Columbia, upon close inspection, was a city with a race problem, and being situated right on top of the Mason-Dixon Line, the problem was more than ever evident.' The workshop is a laboratory for photographers to improve their visual storytelling skills but also holds up a mirror to the community."

If you go

Documenting the Black Experience in Small-Town Missouri

Where: Ellis Library, main lobby

When: Now until Feb. 26

Cost: Free

Dream, Hope, Change: Photographs Honoring the African American Culture and Experience

Where: Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute foyer

When: Now until mid- to late March

Cost: Free


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COLUMBIA — Two photography exhibits are currently on display at MU in honor of Black History Month.

The first exhibit, “Documenting the Black Experience in Small Town Missouri,” is a collection of 25 photographs from the Missouri Photo Workshop archive depicting life in small towns during the last 60 years. The exhibit was compiled by workshop co-directors David Rees and Jim Curley, who sought to show a balanced portrayal of black Missourians.

“It was an opportunity to recognize lives that had been hidden from mainstream America,” Rees said. “These photographs help validate those people and provide insight.”

Rees said he wanted to show a range of life experiences African-Americans have had in small towns. In order to do this, pictures were chosen that depict blacks in their environments, such as their homes, churches, schools and professional settings. 

The exhibit, on display until Feb. 26, is in the main lobby of Ellis Library, marking the second exhibit by the Missouri Photo Workshop in three years at that location. For more information go to mophotoworkshop.org.

The second exhibit, “Dream, Hope, Change: Photographs Honoring the African American Culture and Experience,” examines black culture from a national standpoint. It comprises 48 images from the Picture of the Year International (POYi) archive, a yearly photography competition held at MU each spring. The images, taken from 1948 to 2008, are intended to show a cross-section of black culture and experience, said POYi director Rick Shaw. The photos depict the civil rights movement, black urban culture, black athletes and the presidential election of Barack Obama.

“Challenges in African-American communities have not been resolved, but accomplishments have been made," Shaw said. "The election of Barack Obama as the nation's first black president seemed like a good time to stop and reflect.”

Jessie King,a graduate student at the Missouri School of Journalism, put the exhibit together. The 48 photographs were selected from an archive of more than 44,000.

“I did not want redundancy,” King said.

King, who is researching exhibits for her master’s project, said “this exhibit reflects what photojournalism is supposed to do.”

“It provides immediate impact on an audience,” she said.

The “Dream, Hope, Change” exhibit can be seen in the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute foyer until mid- to late March.

 


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