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COLFA Presents: Civil Rights and the Power of Visual Images

From the insidious to the blatant, discriminatory images have circulated in commercial contexts, journalism, and the applied arts, and valiant responses have ranged from subtle coding to bold demonstration. An exhibition coming to UTSA graphically demonstrates the many ways that visual materials not only provide evidence of historic events, but also influence them. In January and February 2014, UTSA’s Department of Art and Art History will host For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, curated by Dr. Maurice Berger, research professor at the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Co-organized by that institution and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and adapted by Mid-America Arts Alliance, For All the World to See was made possible through NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which also provided an exhibition grant to UTSA.

In September 1955, after the murder of her fourteen-year-old son Emmett Till by white supremacists, Mamie Till Bradley decided to have an open coffin so that others could see the brutality of racism in everyday life. Thousands of people attended the funeral, and the image of Emmett’s mutilated corpse became a flashpoint in the civil rights movement. The exhibition takes its title from Mrs. Bradley’s courageous public actions. “Let the world see what I’ve seen” expressed her belief that more people would support the cause of racial justice and equality if they were witness to the horrors of racism, segregation, and violence.

The exhibition includes photographs, television clips, art posters, and historic artifacts, including photographs from LIFE, JET, and EBONY magazines; CBS news footage; and clips from The Ed Sullivan Show. Both negative and positive imagery tell the story of the struggle for civil rights, from Aunt Jemima syrup dispensers and 1930s produce advertisements to Jackie Robinson baseball ephemera and 1960s children’s toys marketed to African Americans.

Along with For All the World to See, selections from the Paula and Edwin Miles Collection will help place the representation of the African American experience in a broader context. This local collection includes hundreds of artworks by wellknown and emerging artists.

The Struggle for Civil Rights in Texas

These exhibits coincide with another exhibition, The Struggle for Civil Rights in Texas, on display at UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures from January 11 to March 30, 2014. The foundations for this exhibition were developed by UTSA students in an interdisciplinary seminar, “Exhibiting Civil Rights,” taught by Dr. Scott A. Sherer, associate professor of Art History, in summer 2013. For more information, contact the Institute of Texan Cultures at (210) 458-2300 or visit the institute's website.

The African American Studies Spring Symposium

The 7th Annual African American Studies Spring Symposium, “100 Years Forward in African American Literary Arts and Media,” shares the theme of these exhibitions. The all-day symposium on Thursday, February 20, 2014, UTSA Main Campus, includes presentations from a diverse array of scholars from across the nation. Featured guest speakers include Valerie Cassel Oliver, senior curator, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, and Dr. Howard Rambsy II, associate professor of English and Director of Black Studies, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Event Details

For All the World to See

UTSA Main Campus Art Gallery, Arts Building
For additional information, visit the Department of Art website or call (210) 458-4391.

7th Annual African American Studies Spring Symposium: 100 Years Forward in African American Literary Arts and Media

UTSA Main Campus Denman Ballroom, UC 2.01.28
For additional information, visit the symposium website or call (210) 458-4391.