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Small Towns, Black Lives,
African-American Communities in Southern New Jersey

This special exhibition of photographs by Wendel A. White is on loan from the Noyes Museum of Art, Oceanville, N.J.

February 6 – April 1, 2006

 

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An exceptional exhibition for the library’s Black History Month celebration will be on view on the second- and third-floor galleries from February 6 through April 1. Entitled Small Towns, Black Lives, African-American Communities in Southern New Jersey, it is the work of photographer Wendel A. White. Born in Newark, he is Professor of Art at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. During 2003, White was appointed as a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to support his photography of black communities in rural/small town settings. According to the artist, Small Towns, Black Lives is not an historical resource, it is a visual journal of discovery, memory and recognition. The exhibit is on loan from the Noyes Museum of Art, Oceanville, N.J.

Morris_Beach
Bethune Avenue, Morris Beach, NJ, 2000
(At one time, an exclusively African-American summer resort community)

"Professor Wendel White’s extraordinary photographic documentation of the small hamlets, settlements and towns that enrich and complicate the social and cultural terrain of southern New Jersey will inspire all good citizens of the Garden State," said Dr. Clement Alexander Price, the Board of Governors’ Distinguished Service Professor of History and Director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University, Newark Campus, and a senior Newark Public Library trustee. "His wonderful exhibition takes us back to a poignant era when American blacks, and indeed other Americans, sought to experience the American dream on their terms."

Newtonville
Dugout House, Newtonville, NJ, 2001
(Remains of a dugout home in Newtonville)

White began this photographic project in 1989, when he walked around Whitesboro, N.J., took a few photos, talked with Rev. George Thompson of the First Baptist Church and established contacts. Then he began making portraits inside homes and businesses.

"The process established in Whitesboro has remained with me for more than a decade," noted White. "The photographs are made in communities that have no direct connection to my personal history, but they are representations of a connection and context."

Springtown
Bethel A.M.E. Church, Springtown, NJ, 2002
(The church was established in 1810
and was a stop on the Underground Railroad)

The exhibition is free and open to the public during library hours (Monday, Friday and Saturday from 9:00am to 5:30pm; Tuesday through Thursday from 9:00am to 8:30pm). For more information call The Newark Public Library at (973) 424-1831.

For additional information on Small Towns, Black Lives or Mr. White's work, visit Mr. White's Web site at www.blacktowns.org.

 

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