Skip to Main Content

History, Photography, and Race in the South: From the Civil War to Now Part 4—Pictures and Progress: Frederick Douglass on Photography

Shawn Michelle Smith, professor and chair, department of visual and critical studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Bringing together some 115 photographs from across four decades of the artist’s career, Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings offers both a sweeping overview of her achievement and a focused exploration of the continuing influence of the American South on her work. For a public symposium held on April 14, 2018, in conjunction with the exhibition, Shawn Michelle Smith examines the role of photography as a tool of self-construction for African Americans after slavery. Smith discusses the numerous photographic portraits of abolitionist Frederick Douglass as well as his early lectures on photography in the 1860s, presenting his thoughts on the medium as a novel theory of it as well as a new model of personhood. This program is made possible by the James D. and Kathryn K. Steele Fund for Photography.