William Earle Williams: A Stirring Song
A Stirring Song Sung Heroic: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom, 1619 to 1865 by William Earle Williams
Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery/Lehigh University Art Galleries, 2013.
This catalog was printed in conjunction with the exhibition A Stirring Song Sung Heroic : African Americans from Slavery to Freedom, 1619-1865 presented by the John B. Hurford '60 Center for the Arts and Humanities, Haverford College and Lehigh University Art Galleries, in 2013 and 2014. The history of American slavery is presented across three series of black and white silver gelatin prints which document mostly anonymous, unheralded, and uncelebrated places in the New World—from the Caribbean to North America—where Americans black and white determined the meaning of freedom. Archives of prints, newspapers, and other ephemera related to the struggle accompany the work.
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 included more than 60 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 the Audrey A. and John L. Dusseau Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Fine Arts, and Curator of Photography at Haverford College, Pennsylvania. He received his MFA in photography from Yale University School of Art and holds a BA in history from Hamilton College. His photographs have been exhibited at the National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Cleveland Museum of Art, and African American Museum in Philadelphia. Williams's photographs are in many public collections including those of the National Gallery of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Baltimore Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, and Metropolitan Museum of Art. A 1997 Pew Fellow in the Arts, Williams was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for 2003-2004.