Date(s) - 09/22/2018 - 01/05/2019
12:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Art + Practice
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- Opening: September 22, 2018, 2PM – 5PM
New Orleans natives Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick have been documenting African American life in Louisiana for more than 30 years. Since 1980, they have made regular visits to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola to photograph life on the prison farm, which was founded on the consolidated land of several cotton and sugarcane plantations. Their poignant, mostly black-and-white images record the exploitation of the men incarcerated within the maximum-security prison farm while also showcasing the prisoners’ humanity and individual narratives. Calhoun and McCormick use their cameras as tools for social engagement, reminding their audiences of persistent racial inequities, especially throughout the American criminal justice system.
The exhibition is accompanied by a hardcover book published by Lucia | Marquand that features 70 plates, a foreword by Dr. Deborah Willis, chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, a career overview by photography historian Dr. Susan H. Edwards, and an essay placing the images of Slavery, the Prison Industrial Complex in the context of other prison photographs by Dr. Makeda Best, Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography, Harvard Art Museums.
Keith Calhoun (b. 1955) and Chandra McCormick (b. 1957) were both born and raised in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana. As a husband and wife team, they have been documenting Louisiana and its people for more than 30 years. They have captured the vibrant New Orleans music realm, which consists of brass bands, jazz funerals, social and pleasure clubs, benevolent societies, and the Black Mardi Gras Indians. In addition to recording New Orleans’ social and cultural history, Calhoun and McCormick have also covered religious and spiritual ceremonies throughout their community, as well as river baptisms in rural Louisiana. They have created several photographic series devoted to preserving a vanishing way of life in Louisiana, including Louisiana dock workers, longshoremen, and freight handlers on the banks of the Mississippi River; sugarcane field scrappers; cotton gin laborers, and sweet potato workers in East Carrol parish of Lake Providence, Louisiana.
Note: Chandra McCormick, Men going to work in the fields of Angola, 2004. Image courtesy of the artist.