Mechanical Hall Gallery Presents 'Forget Me Not: Photography between Poetry and Politics'

Drawn from the University Museums’ African American art collection, “Forget Me Not” foregrounds the photographic arts as testimony and remembrance, aesthetic document and encomium.


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Photograph of John Hanson taken by Augustus Washington in 1856

The University Museums of the University of Delaware present “Forget Me Not: Photography between Poetry and Politics” in Mechanical Hall Gallery. From the late 19th-century portraits taken by Augustus Washington and Gallo W. Cheston to P. H. Polk’s photographs of Tuskegee Airmen, “Forget Me Not” commemorates individual, communal and national narratives. Remembered here are troubling histories of racial discrimination and disenfranchisement, legacies of a segregated America as well as persistence, resistance, and the creativity of its opposition. Aspiration, family, and love; ritual, beauty, and performance; authority, autonomy, and resilience are among the themes evoked by the works on view. Through images that range from elegant to the elegiac, this exhibition showcases work by artists active from the 1840s to the present day, among them James VanDerZee, Roy DeCarava, Bert Andrews, Carrie Mae Weems, Ming Smith, William Anderson, Wendel White, Colette Gaiter and Clarissa Sligh. See it Feb. 11-May 17.

Also coming soon, “Land and Water: Photographs from 1860 to Now” spans 150 years of photographic history. For photographers since the 1850s, the dialogue between land and water has proved an inexhaustible subject. Comprised of more than 40 photographs from the collection of the University Museums, images on display include examples from the mid- to late-19th century topographic tradition, in which photographers documented places of interest; from the turn of the 20th century, when Pictorialist photographers incorporated water for its ethereal and evocative qualities; from the mid-20th century, when water functioned both formally and narratively in straight, documentary work; and recent work in which photographers look at water’s relation to land in great detail, emphasizing its graphic patterns and social context. “Land and Water” chronicles changing aesthetic approaches to the landscape as well as technical changes in the medium of photography, from albumen prints made from (long-exposure) collodion negatives, to the painterly and print-like processes of the Pictorialists, to the straightforward silver prints of the modernist tradition, to recent large-format examples, in both black-and-white and color. See it Feb. 11-May 17 at Old College Gallery in Newark.

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