Photography exhibit "Both Sides of the Lens" coming to the Rosa Parks Museum

Posted: Monday, 17 November 2014

MONTGOMERY- An exhibit of early 20th century photos taken by an African American family of photographers will be on display starting this month at Troy University's Rosa Parks Museum.

In partnership with the Birmingham Public Libraries, the Rosa Parks Museum will present "Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1910-1935)" from Nov. 15 through Dec. 27 inside the exhibit hall.

The photographs - which offer a rich visual record of everyday life in rural Alabama - are also remarkable because of the story behind them. Taken by a family of African-American photographers who lived in Covin, Ala., the images reveal the lives of the photographers as well as those being photographed, said exhibition curator Andrew Nelson, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland.

"Featuring African Americans and whites who lived in or were traveling through the county, the images illustrate the significance of the photographic experience in the early 20th century and expose the places, events, and possessions valued by people in the community," Nelson said. "The photographs are mostly outdoor portraits of families, children, couples, and individuals often posing with an object they held dear - a book, a car, a pocket watch, a gun, or a musical instrument."

Nelson will discuss the exhibit during a gallery talk on Saturday, Nov. 22, at 11 a.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

The photographs were produced by one or more members of the family of Mitchell and Geneva Shackelford of Fayette County. As large landholders who also owned a general store, the Shackelfords were well known in the county and were prominent members of Covin's African American community. Members of the Shackelford family were closely involved in developing the exhibition.

The exhibit hall at the Rosa Parks Museum is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

For more information on this exhibit or other upcoming events, contact museum curator Daniel Neil at (334) 241-8701.

The exhibition is made possible by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Shackelford Family

Members of the Shackelford family are shown sitting on their front porch steps in Covin, Ala., in one of several portraits featured in the exhibit "Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1910-1935)." The collection of early 20th century photographs will be on display at the Rosa Parks Museum Nov. 15 - Dec. 27.