Faces in Black and White: Photography and Identity


Sep 6, 2017 to Dec 8, 2017
12:00 PM until 05:00 PM

This event occurs weekly, on Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.


The human face conveys an array of emotions, but it also serves as a site of history, struggle, drama and inspiration. In the Mechanical Hall exhibition, “Faces in Black and White: Photography and Identity,” guest curator Stephen Petersen, Ph.D., explores how faces “speak” through photographs.

The exhibition brings together black and white photographs from across the University of Delaware’s collections to showcase the combination of two mediums of expression—photography and the human countenance.

By viewing a diverse selection of subjects and photographers together, the exhibition will open up conversations among the images on view. From freed slaves, to modern-day artists, to activists, to celebrities, the subjects of the photographs also vary tremendously, as do the techniques and interests of the photographers.

Many of the images on display feature the idea of performance, be it an image of a creative artist, politician or athlete. Throughout the exhibition, you will recognize the faces of musical performers, including Duke Ellington, Sun Ra and Bruce Springsteen.

Christopher Felver celebrates, as he once stated, “the myriad of nuances in the voice of their human faces,” through images of important poets, writers and artists.

Bert Andrews, who specializes in images of the black theater, explores the onstage face as an instrument of emotion with his 1990 photograph, James Earl Jones as Paul Robeson. The photograph captures a moment from Jones’ performance in a one-character play about Robeson, a controversial actor and social activist.

Karl Bissinger takes a different approach in his photography, specializing in “environmental portraits.” In these images, the face is isolated and dramatized through lighting and composition. It is the focus of the image.

In exploring how faces “speak” in photographs, the exhibition is able to give voice to the complexities of the human face. In each photograph, the face shows that identity is much larger than appearance alone.




View map University of Delaware's Mechanical Hall
30 North College Ave.
Newark, DE

Additional Information


University of Delaware Library, Museums & Press


New Castle County



We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of this information. However, you should always call ahead to confirm dates, times, location, and other information.

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