Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Skirball Cultural Center | Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement | 1956–1968

LOS ANGELES - The largest exhibition in more than twenty years devoted to photography of the Civil Rights Movement opened at the Skirball Cultural Center on November 19, 2009, in its West Coast premiere. Organized by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956–1968 features images that helped change the nation: they shed light on injustices prevalent in America at the time, promoted solidarity among citizens, and dramatically increased the momentum of the struggle for equal rights. Road to Freedom will remain on view at the Skirball through March 7, 2010.

The exhibition displays approximately 170 photographs by more than thirty-five photographers drawn primarily from the High’s permanent collection, which includes one of the most comprehensive holdings of civil rights–era photography in the country; many have never before been displayed to the public. Exclusively for this Southern California presentation of Road to Freedom, the Skirball has developed a new section focusing on Los Angeles civil rights history, with new loans from the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive in the Department of Special Collections at the Charles E. Young Research Library at UCLA, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. Among the local events portrayed are the picketing of Kress Store in Pasadena in 1960, the march on Pershing Square on March 14, 1965, and the Watts Riots of 1965.

Also on view at the Skirball will be Breach of Peace: Photographs of Freedom Riders by Eric Etheridge. This companion exhibition displays more than a dozen contemporary portraits by photographer Eric Etheridge of Freedom Riders, as they came to be known. In 1961, these young women and men converged on Jackson, Mississippi, to challenge state segregation laws and were arrested and convicted of the charge "breach of the peace." Etheridge’s images of the Freedom Riders, now senior citizens, will be displayed alongside their original mug shots. Breach of Peace originated as part of the High Museum’s Road to Freedom exhibition, but has been expanded for the Skirball presentation to encompass related historical objects, including student activist buttons and newspaper clippings. Breach of Peace will open simultaneously with Road to Freedom, on November 19, and will remain on view for an extended period through April 11, 2010.

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