The University of Minnesota is currently exhibiting the largest collection of Black photography ever displayed with a compilation of more than 200 photographs, according to KARE11 News. “A Picture Gallery of the Soul” is on currently on display in the Katherine E. Nash Gallery at the university’s College of Liberal Arts in Minneapolis.
The exhibit consists of three centuries of American Black photography from more than 100 artists between the 19th century and the 21st century. Images from the George Floyd protests and the first Black lawyers in St. Paul are included in the exhibition. According to the co-curator of the exhibition, Dr. Herman Milligan, “A Picture Gallery of the Soul” was named after a Frederick Douglass quote.
“Frederick Douglass wrote four essays on photography and… in one of those essays, he’s referencing that human beings – if you look at them in terms of a repository of knowledge – you can look at their soul as a picture gallery.”
Milligan added that it was critical for the collection to include known photographers such as Gordon Parks and Kwame Braithwaite, as well as up-and-coming photographers in order to document the current Black experience in America.
“I think it was critical that you do have photographers represented who are part of the here and now and help tell the story of the 360 degrees of the Black American experience from the point of view of a Black American photographer,” he said.
The Katherine E. Nash Gallery shared a post on Instagram announcing the exhibition with a self-portrait of Brathwaite. “We are pleased to present the upcoming exhibition, A Picture Gallery of the Soul, featuring over 100 Black American artists whose practice incorporates the photographic medium.”
The collection is also accompanied by a jazz soundtrack created by Milligan, who began curating photographs for the exhibition with Howard Oransky in 2016. Oransky and Milligan’s collection is also available on Amazon and in bookstores.
The exhibit opened in September and will be on display until Dec. 10.