A Stirring Song Sung Heroic African Americans from Slavery to Freedom, 1619 to 1865

SUArt Galleries
January 10 through March 8, 2019

For the last three decades, William Earle Williams has traced the overlooked histories of African Americans, locating unmarked sites and photographing them with clarity and quiet elegance. This exhibition includes more than 130 photographs together with historic books, maps, newspapers, and manuscripts. Through both his research and his photographs, Williams tracks the history of African Americans from the first shipments of enslaved Africans to the many stops on the Underground Railroad, and from the battlefields of the Civil War to Emancipation. He summarizes his subject as “historical places in the New World from the Caribbean to North America where Americans black and white determined the meaning of freedom.” This moving exhibition revealed the power of photography to bring what has been willfully forgotten or erased back to our collective consciousness.


William Earle Williams is Audrey A. and John L. Dusseau Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Fine Arts and Curator of Photography at Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania; he has been affiliated with Haverford since 1978, after receiving his M.F.A. in photography that year from the Yale University School of Art.

His photographs have been widely exhibited, including group and solo exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art; George Eastman House; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Smith College; and the Smithsonian, Castle Building. His photographs are in many public collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Baltimore Art Museum; Brooklyn Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Princeton University Art Museum; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and the National Gallery.

He has organized over ninety exhibitions, including work by Lewis Hine, Diane Arbus, Roy De Carava, Walker Evans, Paul Strand, Andy Warhol, Harold Edgerton, Lisette Model, and Man Ray.

Williams is a 1997 Pew Fellow in the Arts, and has received individual artist fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts in 1986, 1997 and 2003. He was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for 2003–04. He served as a member of the national board of the Society for Photographic Education from 1997–2003 and as a past member of the executive committee. He was the Conference Chair for the 1998 SPE National Conference in Philadelphia.


Related Programs

ARTIST TALK: William Earle Williams
Tuesday, January 29, 2:15 pm
Shemin Auditorium, Shaffer Art Building

Artist, curator, and educator William Earle Williams has been the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide, and his curatorial work includes the organization of over 90 exhibitions. Among his many honors are being named a 1997 Pew Fellow in the Arts, and receiving a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for 2003–04.

Co-sponsored by the Transmedia Colloquium Lecture Series and the Syracuse University Humanities Center. This event is free and open to the public. Parking is available on a first come, first serve basis in the Quad 4 lot. Please visit parking.syr.edu for more information.

Gallery Reception:
Tuesday, January 29, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Join the SUArt Galleries to celebrate the opening of the newly installed exhibition A Stirring Song Sung Heroic, on view in the galleries January 10 through March 8, 2019.

Lunchtime Lectures:
A Stirring Song: Special Gallery Tour with Historian Dennis Connors
Wednesday, January 23, 12:15 p.m.

Join special guest and Historian Dennis Connors for a gallery talk focused on the newly opened exhibition A Stirring Song Sung Heroic African Americans From Slavery To Freedom, 1619 to 1865.