social media copywriting for LATITUDE Chicago



Caption: Deborah Willis is a photographer, curator, and has authored or co-authored over 20 books on the role of Black photographers throughout history. Her family traditions of photography and the lack of Black photographers being covered in history books while she was a student at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia guided her decades-long career. She published her first book, “Black Photographers, 1840-1940: An Illustrated Bio-bibliography” in 1985 and began to exhibit her own work. “Carrie in the Salon”, shown here and photographed by Willis in 2010, shows artist and writer Carrie Mae Weems in the home salon of African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston in Eatonville, Florida. The beautifully composed photograph takes viewers into the lives of the women who worked in and visited these salons–a place to relax, see refuge, and build a career in which they were celebrated for their work, a feat that wasn’t easy for women of color to accomplish during much of the 20th century. #BlackHistoryMonth

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Caption: Alvin Baltrop is a name often forgotten in the canon of queer and Black photographic histories. Baltrop frequented the piers of the abandoned Lower West Side from 1975-1986, where he photographed those who inhabited it–queer and transgender folks, sunbathers, and drug users. He spent most of his time at the piers, living out of his van and befriending the individuals he photographed, many of whom were often kicked out of their homes for being gay and confided in Baltrop with their stories. Aside from one solo show at the gay non-profit Glines in 1977, he was often shunned from the mostly white and racist New York galleries. It wasn’t until four years after his death in 2004 that his work began to be exhibited. #BlackHistoryMonth

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Caption: Willie Middlebrook, who was twice awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, created evocative pieces that bridged the gap between fine art and documentary photography. “I wanted to show that I could come up with an image that, one, has color, and two, looks very painterly,” Middlebrook said. “Using no gimmicks, no computers, no double exposures, just me and a black-and-white negative, paper, chemicals and darkroom.” He used self-portraits to explore conflicting ideas about his identity as a 6-foot tall, heavyset Black man with dreadlocks, always turning heads when entering a room. The faces in his portraits “...suggest erosion, graffiti, peeling billboards and, ultimately, a symbolic struggle for identity,” wrote the Chicago Tribune in 1995. #BlackHistoryMonth

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