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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Black photographers showcase art at Central Library

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Dozens of multisized photographs hung on the walls of an old camera shop on the south side of Chicago, but none of those photos impressed 17-year-old Lenny White. He had been to the shop many times but had no interest in photography until the day he saw a contact sheet — a small sheet of paper with a montage of film camera images. 

“It was the most beautiful thing in the world,” he said. 

White learned how to use a film camera that day, and when the digital camera was created, he learned how to use that one too. Now, the 69-year-old has three of his photographs hanging in the “Black Photography Exhibition” at Central Library. 

The “Black Photography Exhibition” was created by We Are Indy Arts to recognize local Black photographers and showcase their work to the public. We Are Indy Arts is a Black art organization that strives to support local Black artists through networking and exposure of their work. 

Anthony Radford, the exhibit curator, hopes the exhibit will bring awareness to the lack of diversity within Indianapolis’ art institutions, especially when it comes to showcasing African American artwork.

“We have a lot of great artists in this city, but we have never had an all-Black photography exhibit,” he said. “We hope to bring something a little different and shed light on local Black photographers.”

The exhibit is free to the public and available to view during library hours. The last day to view the exhibit is Aug. 14. 

Rebecca Robinson, one of the artists who helped create the Black Lives Matter mural on Indiana Avenue, has photographs hanging on walls and in display cases at the library. A mixed media artist, Robinson paints, writes and does some film work. While living in Atlanta, she also created the fashion company named PSNOB in 2001, but she found that fashion limited her artistic abilities.

“I didn’t want people to recognize me as PSNOB,” the multifaceted artist said. “I wanted them to recognize me as Rebecca Robinson.” 

Bruce Armstrong has several photos on display, but his favorite is “Closed,” which was taken in New York City. The honey-brown lighting illuminates the subject of the photograph — a stack of intricately balanced chairs. He’s often questioned about why he took a photo of chairs. The questions and engagement with his work is what he loves about photography. 

“What you see is what I saw,” he said. “Click, there it is.”

Next year, We Are Indy Arts’ goal is to expand the exhibit to have more Black photographers.

“It feels good to be able to share your work to the general community and have a space to do so,” Radford said. “It’s a great exhibit. I am proud of it.”

Contact staff writer Abriana Herron at 317-924-5243. Follow her on Twitter @Abri_onyai. 

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