Family Pictures

September 14, 2018–January 20, 2019
Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts

Family Pictures explores the ways in which black photographers and artists have portrayed a range of familial relationships, from blood relatives to close-knit neighborhoods to queer communities.

Beginning with Roy DeCarava and Langston Hughes’s groundbreaking 1955 book The Sweet Flypaper of Life, the exhibition gathers photographic series, installations, and videos by an intergenerational group of artists, including John Edmonds, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Lyle Ashton Harris, Deana Lawson, Lorraine O’Grady, Gordon Parks, Sondra Perry, Ming Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems. Their images of family life often maneuver between intimate, everyday stories and broader political realities, between the universal human condition and the particular histories of race in the United States. As Lawson says of her work, “Every day is political, the everyday is personal.”

A touchstone for several of the artists in the exhibition is the work of Roy DeCarava (American, 1919-2009). Coming of age in Harlem during the 1940s, DeCarava reacted against what he saw as superficial stereotypes and “sociological” studies of his neighborhood by mostly white outsiders. With the aid of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1952, the artist set out to create expressive photographs of life in his community. He eventually published 140 pictures along with text by Langston Hughes in The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955), a fictional family album that tenderly captures intimate moments of domestic life both in Harlem and seemingly everywhere.

Organized by the Columbus Museum of Art

Supporting Sponsor: Milwaukee Art Museum’s African American Art Alliance
Exhibitions in the Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts sponsored by: Herzfeld Foundation Madeleine and David Lubar

Programs + Events

Member Drink & Think: Family Pictures

Thursday, September 20, 5:30 PM

Enjoy cocktails and socialize with other Members before getting an insider’s look at the exhibition Family Pictures, with Lisa Sutcliffe, Herzfeld Curator of Photography and Media Arts.

Included is one glass of wine or beer from the cash bar, which opens at 5:30 p.m. The tour begins at 6:15 p.m., followed by time for questions and discussion.

This event is a benefit for Members at the Art Advocate level ($200) and above. RSVP at 414-224-3284 or membership@mam.org.

Not a Member? Join today!

Member Preview Celebration: Home

Thursday, September 27, 10 AM

Gallery Talk: Family Pictures

Tuesday, October 9, 1:30 PM

Gallery Talk: Family Pictures

Tuesday, November 27, 12:30 PM

Local Luminaries

Thursday, November 29, 5:15 PM

In Conversation: Photographer John Edmonds

Thursday, January 10, 5:15 PM

Gallery Talk: Family Pictures

Tuesday, January 15, 12:30 PM
  • Carrie Mae Weems, from Family Pictures and Stories, 1981-82. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.