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Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to the Present

February 4, 2000 – July 16, 2000

Arts and Industries Building
900 Jefferson Drive, SW
Washington, DC

Location: South Hall

More than 300 images by 120 leading African American photographers document the black experience from slavery through the Civil Rights Era to the emergence of the present-day African American middle class.

The exhibition is divided into the following three sections: The First Hundred Years, 1840-1940; Art and Black Activism; and Black History Deconstructed. From daguerreotypes by J. P. Ball (b. 1825) to contemporary photographs by Carrie Mae Weems, images include freemen in New Orleans in the antebellum period; field workers, domestics, and abolitionists from the Deep South; and members of the Harlem Renaissance in the years after World War I.

The First Hundred Years spotlights the following photographers:

  • Jules Lion (1810-1866), who made daguerreotypes in New Orleans in 1840, just one year after the invention debuted.
  • Augustus Washington (1820-1875), who made daguerreotypes in key New England cities and in Liberia.
  • James Presley Ball (1825-1905), a free black abolitionist who photographed the construction of the Montana state capitol building and documented the emerging black middle class in Helena, Montana.
  • Daniel Freeman (1868-?), a painter and society photographer who ran a studio in Washington, D.C., and represented the District of Columbia in an exhibition at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta.
  • Arthur Bedou (1882-1966), a New Orleans native known for his portraits of jazz musicians and his documentation of the life of Booker T. Washington.
  • Florestine Perrault Collins (1895-1988), who owned and operated a studio in New Orleans from 1920 to 1949; she became one of Louisiana's most respected photographers.