Leaders in the American Civil Rights Movement: SCLC

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s advocacy and implementation of boycotts and non-violent protests characterized the American civil rights movement. Having played a significant role in the organization of the March on Washington, the Selma Voting Rights Campaign and the March to Montgomery, and the Chicago Freedom Movement (among countless others), the SCLC worked hard to represent many different narratives in the civil rights movement. The beginnings of SCLC can be found during the Montgomery bus boycott, a 381-day protest initiated by Rosa Parks’ refusal to leave her seat for a white man. Following the Montgomery bus boycott, the group reorganized and established formal leadership, electing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as their president on this day in 1957. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is pictured below in SCLC’s headquarters in Atlanta.

fernandez_benedict_j_78_1990Benedict J. FernandezDr. King in his office at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Headquarters in Atlanta, ca. 1967, (78.1990)

SCLC’s advocacy of non-violence had and continues to have an influence on the strategies adopted by many other groups fighting for justice and equality.

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Love Is in the Air


Dyke Action Machine, Gosh, We Always Knew Lesbian Families Rule, 1992 (1193.2000)


John Loengard, Florette and Jacques-Henri Lartigue, 1981 (189.1987)


Bill Wood, 50th Anniversary, 1956 (2010.14.183)

cowin_736_1990Unidentified Photographer, [Groom and Bride], ca. 1920s (736.1990)

eisenstadt_alfred_319_1989Alfred Eisenstaedt, Lunch hour at river Seine just below Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, 1963 (319.1989)

strauss_zoe_2013_74_3Zoe Strauss, Ken and Don, Las Vegas, Nevada, 2007 (2013.74.3)


Charles H. Traub, “N.Y.C. on the Edge,” Marine Park, Brooklyn, NY, 1988 (477.1991)

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Shirley Temple Black, 1928-2014


Unidentified Photographer, [Shirley Temple dancing with Bill Robinson in the film The Littlest Rebel], 1935 (1162.2005)

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A Woman’s World


Mickalene Thomas, Lovely Six Foota, 2007 (2009.33.1)

This selection of works by three contemporary American female photographers Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, and Mickalene Thomas respond to images of African American women. Seen through the lenses of their cameras, they share and make visual commentary of the issues surrounding the images they see of themselves as African American women in history, science, fashion, and media. This has been a major concern in mainstream American culture. By bringing attention to these issues, these artists look to make positive change through awareness.


Carrie Mae Weems, You Became a Scientific Profile from the “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried” series, 1995-96 (835.2001.1)


Lorna SimpsonPartitions & Time, 1991 (2.1998.h)

These three women have taken full advantage of using archival images. They look at misconstrued images and create a dialogue about how American history dictated the negative representations and stereotypes and how they continue to affect the identity of this culture. Carrie Mae Weems uses found Louis Agassiz slave daguerreotypes as a way to remind viewers that Africans American slaves were often seen as science experiments. Some of these representations have had a long lasting and severe impact on how African American have been presented long after slavery. Lorna Simpson looks at memory and Mickalene Thomas mixes fashion and sexuality.


Lorna Simpson, 9 Props, 1995 (8.2005)


Lorna Simpson, Untitled (melancholy dame/carmen jones), 2001 (2008.11.1-.2)

Simpson, Weems, and Thomas explore new ways to look at identity through the use of images and words, but they also tell a story with the titles of their pieces, which tie together the power of words and images. We have intermixed the titles to create another piece through poetic statement.

You Became a Scientific Profile


Partitions & Time

Lovely Six Foota.
I’ll call you

Untitled (melancholy dame/carmen jones).

My gift to you

9 Props.

Kim Weston, ICP-Bard 2014

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Young Football Players


Martha McMillan Roberts, Football Game, Mississippi, 1947 (188.1983)

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Capa in Color


Robert Capa, [Ernest Hemingway and his son Gregory, Sun Valley, Idaho], October 1941 (2013.92.32)

Capa in Color opens tomorrow and will be on view at ICP until May 4, 2014. It is the story of an incredible resurrection: from the 1940s, Robert Capa photographed regularly in color for the magazines of the day (Holiday, Illustrated, Life, etc.), but the majority of the work has never been printed, seen, or even studied before. In fact, this aspect of his career had virtually been forgotten. Curator Cynthia Young selected 125 color images among the 4,200 slides preserved in the Capa Archive at ICP, most of which had become almost unusable because of color deterioration. Thanks to digital technologies, the slides were scanned, color corrected, and printed, and the public will now be able to discover these extraordinary photographs–a whole new aspect of Capa’s work, much happier and lighter than the famous black-and-white war photography for which he is known. Drawn entirely from ICP’s collection, including contextual publications and personal papers, the exhibition presents a fascinating new look at this master of black-and-white photography during his centennial year.

capa_6x6_2 016Robert Capa, [Woman on the beach, Biarritz, France], August 1951 (2013.92.89)

capa_6x6 064Robert Capa, [Skier during Carnival, Zürs, Austria], 1949-50 (2013.92.70)

Robert Capa, [Young visitors waiting to see Lenin’s Tomb at Red Square, Moscow], 1947 (2013.92.41)

capa_robert_2013_92_86Robert Capa, [Spectators at the racetrack, Deauville, France], August 1951 (2013.92.86)

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The Aestheticization of Violence and the Aestheticization of Banality

A modern method of destruction (total obliteration) for a modern way of life!

Nations are built on violence. The United States of American gained hegemony after the Second World War was ended through the use of two nuclear weapons in the Pacific. In Plutonium Circus, a documentary film about Amarillo, Texas, a man remarks that while the nuclear attacks on Japan were certainly not the first time civilians had been targeted in war, those attacks can be seen to represent the first time that civilians were intentionally targeted. Estimates vary on exactly how many individuals died in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki but it is thought to be somewhere around a quarter of a million. Most of these deaths occurred within the first days of the bombings.


Bill Wood, [New housing development], 1950s (2010.14.199)


Bill Wood, [Man in front of his store], 1959 (2010.14.1)


Bill Wood, [Refrigerated dairy products, aisle 11], 1960 (2011.2.108)

The use of those two nuclear weapons changed everything. They made everything disposable. From those two events modern America was created. All nations are predicated on violence and intimidation. The nuclear attacks on Japan had the effect of intimidating the entire world. The America that is pictured in Bill Wood’s photographs was built from unimaginable violence. Wood shows us the most mundane and everyday parts of America. Contrasted against these banal and nostalgic images of brand-new America in its abundance are two survey photographs of the effects of the bombings. Massive death and destruction ultimately produces nothing but a nihilistic and nostalgic sort of banality. It’s pretty straightforward. It’s probably ultimately reductive as well.


United States Strategic Bombing Survey, [Burned-over landscape, looking east from Grid 6H], October 31, 1945 (2006.1.18)


United States Strategic Bombing Survey, [Distorted steel-frame structure of Odamasa Store, Hiroshima], November 20, 1945 (2006.1.68)

In addition, it is interesting to note that both of these photographic archives are filled with images that were made on assignment rather than by a personal or artistic desire. They are, in a sense, “workaday” images for a specific purpose that have been (magically?) transformed into art objects by inclusion in a museum.

Cary Tijerina, ICP-Bard 2013

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