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

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.