The Critical Eye
by, Phil Tarley
Every once in a while the freedom struggles of gay people and black people come together and dovetail in the most compelling photographic portraits. Such are Steve Shapiro’s indelible black and white studies of James Baldwin, an incendiary intellect who wrote about living as a black gay man in racist and homophobic white America.
The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present Freedom Now, an exhibition of American Civil Rights photographs by celebrated documentary photographer Steve Schapiro. The exhibition opens in conjunction with the highly-anticipated release of Taschen’s edition of The Fire Next Time. This limited-edition publication pairs Schapiro’s photographs with two seminal James Baldwin essays, “Down at the Cross – Letters from a Region of My Mind” which tackles the relationship between race and religion, and the groundbreaking, “My Dungeon Shook – Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of Emancipation”.
First published by The New Yorker in 1963, The Fire Next Time, considered to be one the most eloquent and powerful explorations of race in America, catapulted James Baldwin into literary fame. After reading Baldwin’s essays, Steve Schapiro convinced Life Magazine, where he had freelanced as a photographer, to let him travel with Baldwin from New York to Mississippi, documenting the Civil Rights Movement that was well underway. Schapiro notes of meeting and traveling with Baldwin, “Here was an intellectual, a brilliant man, and a black leader who never seemed to forget the importance of relating to each other as human beings. He had a hunger for love and believed in its power.”
The photographs of Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King beg to be seen, but it is Baldwin’s sensitive portraits, merged with his luminous essays that shine.
For more information, please visit: http://www.faheykleingallery.com/exhibitions/steve-schapiro4