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Regenia A. Perry, Camara Dia Holloway, Christina Knight, Dele Jegede, Bridget R. Cooks and Jenifer P. Borum

Term used to describe art made by Americans of African descent. While the crafts of African Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries continued largely to reflect African artistic traditions (see Africa, §VIII), the earliest fine art made by professional African American artists was in an academic Western style (see fig.).

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Kimberly L. Malinowski

skilled daguerrean who practiced photography in Massachusetts and in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Little is known about his early life, other than that he was from Boston, Massachusetts, and was most likely a freeman. He was a pioneer of the daguerreotype. The daguerreotype process is exceedingly laborious and includes polishing the daguerreotype plate, buffing it, coating it with iodine and bromine, exposing the plate in the camera, positioning both the subject and the camera, and then developing it, exposing it to mercury, removing the coating, gilding the image, and then coloring the image as necessary. This process requires highly skilled artists to get a clean image.

While little is known about Bailey, his importance stems from his role in teaching James Presley Ball the art of daguerreotyping in the 1840s Bailey most likely taught Ball in White Sulphur Springs West Virginia Ball was a renowned abolitionist who published ...

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Born free in Virginia, James Presley Ball opened several short-lived businesses in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1845, 1847, and 1849. Two years later he established his first successful photography studio, which prospered until the early 1870s. Active in the movement for Abolitionism in the United States, he commissioned a 2,400 sq ft painted antislavery panorama, Ball's Splendid Mammoth Pictorial Tour of the United States Comprising Views of the African Slave Trade; of Northern and Southern Cities; of Cotton and Sugar Plantations; of the Mississippi, Ohio and Susquehanna Rivers, Niagara Falls (1855).

In 1887 Ball became the official photographer for a celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After his move to Helena, Montana that same year, he was elected to several local political and civic positions. Ball moved to Seattle, Washington, around 1900 and opened Globe Studios He ...

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Charles L. Hughes

singer and member of the Supremes, was born in Rosetta, Mississippi, the eighth child of Jessie and Lurlee Ballard. In 1953 the Ballards, following the Great Migration path taken by millions of African Americans, moved to Detroit, Michigan, where Jessie Ballard worked in an automobile factory until his death in 1959. The family lived in the Brewster-Douglass Projects, and Ballard's powerful singing voice distinguished her both in school and around the neighborhood. Two of her neighbors, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams, who were members of the local singing group the Primes, told their manager, Milton Jenkins, about Ballard, and Jenkins was impressed enough to book Ballard—still in her teens—as a solo act at the Primes' performances.

This early connection between Ballard and the Primes is vitally important both to Ballard s career and to the history of American popular music for two reasons First the Primes would ...

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Amalia K. Amaki

photographer and educator, was born in Augusta, Georgia, to Florida and Robert Battey, both laborers. He was living in New York City by his late teens and had become one of the most famous African American photographers in the country by 1900, although nothing is known about his educational background. In 1900 Battey married Anna H. Stokes, who gave birth to two daughters, Edyphe F. (born 1901) and Antoinette (born 1908). Affiliated with studios in Cleveland and New York, his primary base, he enjoyed a lucrative career as a studio and commercial photographer with a respected reputation among Americans and Europeans. He was superintendent of the Bradley Studio in New York with such clientele as Sir Thomas Lipton and Prince Henry of Prussia, and was a partner in Battey and Warren Studio in the city.

Battey made classic photogravure portraits of the Tuskegee Normal and ...

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Amalia K. Amaki

photographer and businessman, was born in New Orleans, where he remained professionally based throughout his sixty-plus-year career.

The leading African American photographer in New Orleans in the first half of the twentieth century, Bedou saw his reputation grow to national proportions as a result of his images of the life and travel of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (later Tuskegee University) President Booker T. Washington from the early 1900s through 1915. He photographed Washington at public-speaking engagements addressing crowds in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, California, and numerous other locations during his final tour, which ended in 1915. He recorded Washington in transit by coach, train, and automobile in addition to his famous portraits of the education leader posed upon his horse.

As official photographer for the Institute, Bedou covered any number of events for the school. He recorded the 24 October 1905 ...

Article

Deborah Willis

James Conway Farley was born to slave parents in Prince Edward County, Virginia, on August 10, 1854. Following the death of his father, Farley and his mother moved in 1861 to Richmond, Virginia, where his mother was a storeroom keeper at the Columbia Hotel. He assisted in making candles, learned to read and write, and attended public schools for three years. After working briefly with a baker, he was employed in 1872 in the chemical department of the photographic establishment of C. R. Rees and Company in downtown Richmond. During a number of years after 1875, he set the scene and made photographs for the G. W. Davis Photograph Gallery, also in downtown Richmond on Broad Street. In 1895 he opened his own studio, the Jefferson Fine Arts Gallery.

For thirty five years Farley prospered in a profession that had few black men When four white ...

Article

Donna M. Wells

artist, photographer, and entrepreneur, was born in Alexandria, Virginia, to Thomas Freeman and Sarah Freeman. Following his father's death, in 1877 he and his sister Delilah moved with their mother to Washington, where Freeman attended Washington, D.C., public schools and excelled in drawing and painting. It is not known if he finished high school. He held a variety of jobs, including laborer and waiter, to help support the family.

In 1885, at the age of seventeen, Freeman started to advertise his services as a painter in addition to art framer and bicycle repairman. Gradually he began to pursue a career as an artist and photographer. His early work consisted of pastel drawings of Washington's elite African American community. His most famous portraits were of the Washington lawyer John Mercer Langston, completed in 1893, and of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass in 1895 That ...

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Blake Wintory

photographer, politician, sheriff, assayer, barber, and lawyer, was born a slave in Carroll County, Kentucky. William Hines Furbush became a member of the Arkansas General Assembly as well as the first sheriff of Lee County, Arkansas. His Arkansas political career began in the Republican Party at the close of Reconstruction and ended in the Democratic Party just as political disfranchisement began.

Little is known about Furbush's early life, though his literacy suggests a formal childhood education. Around 1860 he operated a photography studio in Delaware, Ohio. In March 1862 he traveled to Union-controlled Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas, on Kate Adams and continued to work as a photographer. In Franklin County, Ohio, that December he married Susan Dickey. A few years later, in February 1865 he joined the Forty second Colored Infantry at Columbus Ohio He received an honorable discharge at the ...

Article

John V. Jezierski

Wallace L. Goodridge (4 Sept. 1840–3 Mar. 1922), and William O. Goodridge (28 May 1846–17 Aug. 1890), photographers, were born in York, Pennsylvania, three of seven children of William C. Goodridge and Evalina Wallace. Among the first African Americans to work as professional photographers, Glenalvin J. Goodridge in 1847 established a studio in York that Wallace L. Goodridge and William O. Goodridge continued to operate after 1863 in Saginaw, Michigan, until Wallace's death in 1922. During three-quarters of a century the Goodridge brothers experimented with all forms of photography, from daguerreotypes and ambrotypes in the 1840s and 1850s, to X-ray images and motion pictures in the early twentieth century. Their portrait, landscape, and stereoscopic images gained the studio both national and international recognition.

The sons success was due in part to the energy and enterprise of their father a slave descendant of the Carrolls ...

Article

M'Lissa Kesterman

photographer, was born in Madison, Indiana, one of six children of Alexander A. Hunster, a barber, and Catherine Campbell Hunster. The Hunsters were both free blacks whose families had left the South in the mid- to late 1830s.

When Richard was only a few years old the Hunsters moved to Portsmouth Ohio where his father was employed as a barber aboard an Ohio River steamboat There is limited information available about Hunster s early life but his family apparently lived comfortably in Portsmouth Hunster and his siblings attended school although their education was probably limited to the elementary grades Growing up in a town along the river and having a father who worked on a steamboat Hunster no doubt visited the Portsmouth wharf regularly and marveled at the big paddle wheelers that plied up and down the Ohio River These childhood images of steam rising from the ...

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Carla Williams

As subjects, photographers, and workers in the photographic field, black women have participated in the medium of photography since its introduction in 1839. Immediately after the announcement of this democratic new medium, photography gained a particular stronghold in the United States, a young nation eager to see itself pictured. To date, scant evidence of black women photographers in the nineteenth century has been uncovered, although one can reasonably hypothesize that black women occupied some of the same roles that white women did in early photographic endeavors—as studio attendant, the person who would prepare subjects for their sittings; as darkroom assistant, helping the photographer to prepare and process his plates; or as photo finisher, adding hand coloring and other enhanced effects to the finished plate or print.

As photographic subjects however black women were very savvy about the new medium and its powers of communication Probably the most famous relationship ...

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Jacqueline M. Smith

African Americans began producing and exhibiting photographs the year after photography's inception in 1839. Long-standing creators and consumers of visual technologies, blacks have used photography to document and explore the diversity of African American experiences.

The sociopolitical dynamics of legalized slavery, antiblack sentiments, and economic expense limited enslaved persons’ opportunities to capture or commission their likenesses—the visual rendering of the original subject or what we now consider a photograph. Despite institutional limitations placed on blacks’ physical and economic agency, free persons of color such as Sojourner Truth (c. 1797–1883), an antiracism activist and feminist suffragist, and Frederick Douglass (1818–1895), a prominent abolitionist and newspaper editor, circulated their photographic likenesses in the form of cartes de visites and cabinet-card portraits. Similarly circumventing U.S. racial segregation, James Presley Ball (1825–1905), Augustus Washington (1820–1875 and the Goodridge brothers active 1860s 1880s were among the ...

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Kobena Mercer

Photography has flourished in Africa since 1839, when the vice regent of Egypt, Khedive Mehmet, experimented with equipment imported from France, just months after Louis Daguerre publicized the invention of the silver-plate process. As a result of interaction with Europeans in coastal cities, Africans acquired technical skills that led to the development of photographic studios in the 1860s. A wide range of regionally distinctive traditions arose during the twentieth century and African photographers have revealed a unique outlook in photojournalism, portraiture, and artistic expression. Diverse insights into African social and cultural life are shown in the reportage of Peter Magubane and David Goldblatt in South Africa; in the French West African portraiture style of Seydou Keita and in the art of contemporary African expatriates in the West such as Touhami Ennadre from Morocco and Rotimi Fani Kayode from Nigeria In contrast to the selective depiction of the continent ...

Article

Deborah Willis

The first known African Americans to practice the art and business of photography were Jules Lion, James Presley Ball, John B. Bailey, Augustus Washington, and the Goodridge Brothers, between 1840 and 1850. They worked as daguerreotypists, documentarians, artists, and studio photographers. The larger American public was fascinated with the daguerreotype as soon as Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (1787–1851) publicized the process in France in 1839. The French inventor Nicéphore Niépce (1765–1833) produced the earliest extant photographic image, made by a camera obscura in 1826. After the death of Niépce, Daguerre successfully fixed an image and announced to the Paris press his discovery, which he named after himself, the daguerreotype, in January of 1839.

Newspapers in the spring of 1839 published accounts of Americans experimenting with the daguerreotype process. On August 19, 1839 Daguerre publicly announced the process ...

Article

In September 1839 the front page of the Colored American newspaper carried an article about a process invented by the artist and scientist Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre for permanently fixing an image onto a surface. Named for its inventor, the daguerreotype was the first commercially successful photographic process. The procedure for making daguerreotypes was shared freely with the world, and Americans were quick to embrace the new medium as both subjects and creators. Within a year of the invention the first photographic likenesses created by an African American were exhibited by Jules Lyons a New Orleans artist turned daguerreian practitioners of the process were called daguerreotypists or daguerreians Before the invention of the daguerreotype the visual documentation of places persons objects and events was left to the interpretation of illustrators and painters Only the rich and persons of note could afford the luxury of having their likenesses captured by ...

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Amy Helene Kirschke

The examination of African American history and culture must necessarily include an extended exploration of the visual arts—an African American “visual vocabulary”—that examines how African Americans visually define their own collective identity and historical identity. W. E. B. Du Bois, the towering black intellectual of the twentieth century, stated that history must be explored and felt in order to know the responsibilities of the present; imagery was and is a part of that history. Past and present would meet in this imagery with frightful intensity and authentic tragedy. Art could be a means of trying to establish a new memory of the black American experience, and in doing so, discovering an identity both American and African.

Black society and white society saw the same events differently and then also recalled them differently African American visual artists had to be empowered with political rights and access to political power which ...

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Ann M. Shumard

abolitionist, photographer, and Liberian statesman, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Christian Washington, a former slave from Virginia who operated an oyster saloon, and a woman who is identified only as a native of South Asia. She apparently died soon after his birth, for his father remarried in October 1821. Washington was raised in Trenton and until early adolescence attended school with white students. When access to such schooling ended in the face of growing racism, he was left to continue his education on his own. He worked for his father for several years, studied intermittently, and became an avid reader of Benjamin Lundy's Genius of Universal Emancipation and William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator These papers aroused Washington s hatred of slavery and racial prejudice and inspired him to become an activist Eager to contribute to the uplift of his ...

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Ann M. Shumard

Washington, Augustus (1820 or 1821–07 June 1875), abolitionist, photographer, and Liberian statesman, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Christian Washington, a former slave from Virginia who operated an oyster saloon, and a woman who is identified only as a native of South Asia. She apparently died soon after his birth, for his father remarried in October 1821. Washington was raised in Trenton and until early adolescence attended school with white students. When access to such schooling ended in the face of growing racism, he was left to continue his education on his own. He worked for his father for several years, studied intermittently, and became an avid reader of Benjamin Lundy's Genius of Universal Emancipation and William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator These papers aroused Washington s hatred of slavery and racial prejudice and inspired him to become an activist Eager to contribute ...