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Go Tell It: Civil Rights Photography

Sat Apr 30 2016 – Mon Jan 2 2017

Seattle Art Museum

Third Floor Galleries

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s saw major gains in the struggle to end segregation and discrimination against African Americans, as well as many other marginalized groups, including Native Americans, homosexuals, and women. While landmark pieces of legislation during that decade officially outlawed racial discrimination, the realities of social and institutional inequity continued well past these watershed years—and the "foot soldiers" of the movement continued their efforts to confront them.

This exhibition features major works from the collection by artists including Dan Budnik, Danny Lyon, Roy deCarava, Robert Frank, Gary Winogrand, Marion Post Wolcott, and others. Whether capturing the inequalities of Jim Crow-era segregation, documenting keystone moments and leaders of the movement, or exposing the racial injustices that continued long after desegregation, these artists used documentary photography as a tool for activism and to bear witness to the battle for equality.

As a contemporary counterpart to these historical works, the exhibition features the work of two artists who examine the racial injustices that persist today, despite the many victories of the Civil Rights Movement. Joseph Norman’s sympathetic portraits of gang members in the 1990s question the continued disenfranchisement of young black men, and Shikeith examines the personal, societal, and emotional obstacles faced by black men today through video.

Image: Joyous Southern Christian Leadership Conference Marchers Outside Jefferson Davis Hotel, Montgomery, Alabama, March 25th, 1965, 1965, Dan Budnick, American, b. 1933, photograph, 11 x 14 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Benham Gallery and Dan Budnik, 2000.42., © Dan Budnik.