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Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People

Time: Oct. 13, 2023, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Location: Everson Museum of Art, 401 Harrison St.

Part of the Syracuse Symposium

Part of the Syracuse Symposium series.

Family Pictures Syracuse

Thomas Allen Harris

Thomas Allen Harris (Yale University)

The Family Pictures Syracuse project launches with a screening of Thomas Allen Harris’s award-winning documentary, Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographer and the Emergence of a People (2014), which explores the role of photography in shaping the identity, aspirations, and social emergence of African Americans from slavery to the present. Bringing to light the hidden and unknown photos shot by both professional and vernacular African American photographers, the film opens a window into the lives of Black families, whose experiences and perspectives are often missing from the traditional historical canon. Inspired by the book Reflections in Black by photo historian Deborah Willis, the film features the works of esteemed photographic artists Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Anthony Barboza, Hank Willis Thomas, Coco Fusco, Clarissa Sligh, James Van Der Zee, Gordon Parks, and many others.

Following the screening, director Thomas Allen Harris joins the organizers of Family Pictures Syracuse in a discussion of the film and the project it inspired.

Reserve your spot in the photo-share!

For more information, email the group or call (315) 741-5706.

About the Family Pictures Syracuse project
Family Pictures Syracuse is a collaboration between Syracuse's Turning the Lens Collective and The Family Pictures Institute for Inclusive Storytelling to assemble an archive for social justice in the city of Syracuse. The Turning the Lens Collective recognizes that the photographs we take, display in our homes, or keep in family albums are sites for public memory—windows into stories that too often go unseen and underwritten. With our Family Pictures Syracuse project, we seek to inspire our city to narrate the stories our images hold to ensure that our histories are not lost or overlooked. We believe that working toward a living community photo archive will benefit our city’s residents as its very existence will assert that everyone, especially our most vulnerable members, have always and will continue to have a stake in Syracuse’s shared local history, our present, and our future.

This free public event launches a series of weekend activities relating to Allen's community-engaged "Family Pictures" project:

Saturday, October 14 | 9am-2pm
Family Pictures Syracuse: Photo-Sharing Day

Sunday, October 15 | 2:00-4:00pm
Family Pictures Syracuse Grand Finale

Wednesday, November 15 | 5-7pm
Family Pictures in the Archive
Special Collections Research Center

Support for Family Pictures Syracuse comes from:

  • African American Studies
  • Allyn Family Foundation
  • Anthropology
  • Community Folk Art Center
  • Democratizing Knowledge
  • Engaged Humanities Network
  • English
  • Everson Museum of Art
  • Film and Media Arts
  • History
  • Humanities New York
  • Jewish Studies Program
  • Lender Center for Social Justice
  • LGBTQ Studies Program
  • LightWork Labs
  • Office of the Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives
  • Orange Television Network
  • Photography and Literacy Project (PALs)
  • Religion
  • Special Collections Research Center
  • Syracuse University Art Museum
  • Syracuse University Humanities Center's Syracuse Symposium on "Landscapes"
  • Television, Radio, and Film
  • The SOURCE
  • Women's and Gender Studies
  • Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition