According to KARE11 News, the University of Minnesota is now displaying the largest collection of Black photography ever displayed, with a collection of more than 200 photographs. “A Picture Gallery of the Soul” is now on display at the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts in the Katherine E. Nash Gallery.
The exhibition features three centuries of American Black photography by more than 100 artists from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries. The display includes images from the George Floyd protests and the first Black lawyers in St. Paul. “A Picture Gallery of the Soul,” according to co-curator Dr. Herman Milligan, was named after a Frederick Douglass quotation.
“FREDERICK DOUGLASS WROTE FOUR ESSAYS ON PHOTOGRAPHY AND… IN ONE OF THOSE ESSAYS, HE’S REFERENCING THAT HUMAN BEINGS – IF YOU LOOK AT THEM IN TERMS OF A REPOSITORY OF KNOWLEDGE – YOU CAN LOOK AT THEIR SOUL AS A PICTURE GALLERY.”
Milligan went on to say that it was vital for the collection to include well-known photographers like Gordon Parks and Kwame Braithwaite, as well as emerging photographers, in order to chronicle the current Black experience in America.
“I think it was critical that you do have photographers represented who are part of the here and now and help tell the story of the 360 degrees of the Black American experience from the point of view of a Black American photographer,” he said.
The Katherine E. Nash Gallery announced the exhibition on Instagram with a self-portrait of Brathwaite. “We are excited to present A Picture Gallery of the Soul, an upcoming show featuring over 100 Black American artists whose work integrates the photographic medium.”
Milligan, who began gathering pictures for the exhibition alongside Howard Oransky in 2016, has also composed a jazz soundtrack for the collection. The compilation by Oransky and Milligan is also available on Amazon and in bookstores.
The exhibition debuted in September and will remain on display through December 10.