Savannah gallery exhibit features historic civil rights era photographs

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A Savannah art gallery is featuring historic photographs from the civil rights era.

Laney Contemporary’s exhibition shows work from two artists, Steve Schapiro and Sheila Pree Bright.

The exhibit has a mix of Schapiro’s civil rights photographs from “The Fire Next Time,” an illustrated volume of James Baldwin’s text, and Sheila Pree Bright’s photographs from her publication “#1960Now.”

Gallery directors say they’re excited to share the works to show the comparison between the community’s connections to the civil rights era and involvement with current social justice movements.

“I just think some of these photographs could be yesterday and they could be 50 years ago,” Laney Contemporary Director Susan Laney said. “It’s really interesting to see. And especially to compare and contrast the newer photographs that Sheila Pree Bright has in the exhibition as well.”

Bright is an award-winning fine art photographer based in Atlanta.

Her short film will also be shown, depicting intergenerational correlations between thought leaders in history and emerging leaders across the nation.

Schapiro is an American photojournalist who has documented six decades of American culture, including the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Laney says the exhibit is a conversation between two eras and two important photographers grappling with this subject matter 50 years apart.

“We’re really glad to have the exhibition here in Savannah and be able to show it right now during the election,” Laney said. “I think it’s especially relevant right now. We’re thrilled to be able to share it with our city and our community.”

The exhibit offers Schapiro’s series photographed on the Selma to Montgomery march, while Pree Bright’s work documents the 2014-2015 Black Lives Matter protests sparked in Ferguson and Baltimore.

“Schapiro’s momentous and intimate work, paired with the striking series by Pree Bright, is an extraordinary dialogue of the civil rights struggle then and now,” Laney said.

Laney Contemporary collaborated with Jackson Fine Art in Atlanta to share this exhibition in Savannah, a city with deep connections to and support of the civil rights movement.

The gallery is hosting a socially-distant reception on Oct. 15 from 4 to 9 p.m. A food truck will be on-premises with plenty of room on the lawn and within the gallery to maintain social distancing. Face masks are required for entry and a limited number of visitors will access the gallery at a time.

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