Civil rights photography is focus of THIS LIGHT OF OURS, opening January 17

                                                                                                                                                    

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  
January 5, 2015

CIVIL RIGHTS EXHIBITION COMING TO ALLENTOWN
Photographs show struggles, triumphs of 1960s Movement

What was it like to be surrounded by intense social upheaval in the South in the 1960s? An exhibition opening on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend at the Allentown Art Museum will allow visitors to step beyond the headlines to view 156 striking and emotional images taken by nine photographers who lived at the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement.

This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement, on display from January 17 through May 15, documents the unprecedented changes to our country that occurred during this tumultuous era and are still relevant today. Unlike images by photojournalists, who covered breaking news events, the exhibition captures the commitment of black and white alike to the cause of racial justice, their resolve in the face of violence, their impact on the nation’s politics, and on the nation’s consciousness.

This Light of Ours offers a powerful, telling snapshot of the human condition. It provides much-needed perspective on how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go,” says Museum president and CEO, David Mickenberg. “The Museum is honored to bring this exhibition and four months of related programing to the Lehigh Valley. It clearly demonstrates the power of art—and the responsibility of our Museum—to stir emotion, bring people together, create dialogues, seek answers, and make a difference in our community.”

Five of the nine photographers whose work is included in the exhibition will participate in a panel discussion at 1 p.m. on opening day, Sunday, January 17, at the Museum. Bob Fletcher, Matt Herron, Herbert Randall, Maria Varela, and Tamio Wakayama will provide first-hand accounts of the young organizers and “ordinary” people who fashioned this extraordinary movement. The panel will be moderated by Leslie Kelen, executive director of the Center for Documentary Expression and Art, which organized the exhibition. Museum admission and entry to the panel discussion are free.

Opening weekend activities continue on Monday, January 18, in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Museum will be open from 11 a.m. till 5 p.m., with free admission and special programing, including a Story Station where visitors can record their personal recollections of the struggle during the Civil Rights Movement, films documenting the evolution of the Black Power Movement in America, a performance of protest strategies used most recently by Black Lives Matter supporters and organizers, and a one-hour art-making workshop for families in honor of Dr. King’s legacy. Entrance to the Museum and all MLK Jr. Day activities are free.

Other programing highlights during the run of the exhibition include a performance by TV and stage actress Anna Deavere Smith (Nurse Jackie, The West Wing) on Friday, April 8, at Muhlenberg College and the This Light of Ours film series at Civic Theatre of Allentown, with a film a month related to civil rights from January through May.

An audio tour of the exhibition is available at www.This LightOfOurs.com.

For a complete listing of programs related to This Light of Ours, see below or visit the Museum’s website at AllentownArtMuseum.org.

Museum Hours:
Galleries, including This Light of Ours
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
Thursday: 11 a.m.–8 p.m., free entry from 4 p.m. till 8 p.m.
Sunday: noon–4 p.m., free all day

This Light of Ours was organized by the Center for Documentary Expression and Art. Major support for the exhibition has been provided by the Bruce W. Bastian Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Its presentation at the Allentown Art Museum has been supported through the generosity of the Audrey and Bernard Berman Family Fund, the Estelle Browne-Pallrand Charitable Trust, the Leon C. and June W. Holt Endowment, the Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation, the Rider-Pool Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the County of Lehigh, and the more than two thousand dedicated members of the Museum.

Exhibition Curator: Matt Herron
Historical Consultant: Charlie Cobb Jr.
Project Originators: Leslie Kelen and Steven Kasher

 

Programing Related to This Light of Ours

Ongoing: Free Gallery Tours of This Light of Ours
Sundays at 2 p.m.: January 24-February 7, February 28, March 13, April 10, May 1-May 15
Thursdays at 6 p.m.: February 11, February 25, March 10, March 31, April 21, April 28, May 12

January 16 (Saturday)
Members’ Preview for This Light of Ours
6–8 p.m.
Preview the exhibition This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement, relive your own memories of the time, and meet the photographers who captured the struggle for social justice on display in this provocative exhibition. Members will enjoy hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, and a DJ playing music of the era, including a guest DJ appearance by Alan Jennings, executive director of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley. Free for members. Not a Member? Join today and come to the party.

January 17 (Sunday)
Opening Day of This Light of Ours
noon–4
Admission to the Museum is free every Sunday.
12:30–3:30 p.m.
ArtVentures
Art Ways Interactive Family Gallery
Kids and families can create original works of art together under the direction of a Museum educator in the Crayola Classroom, free. In Art Ways in January, explore how art moves people to act for a better society through hands-on “Let It Shine: Activist Art” activities.
1 p.m.
Panel Discussion: The Photographers of This Light of Ours
Hear the first-person stories behind the dramatic images as the photographers of This Light of Ours convene for a rare panel discussion on their experiences in the 1960s covering the Civil Rights Movement. Moderated by Leslie Kelen, Executive Director of the Center for Documentary Expression and Art, the panel includes photographers Bob Fletcher, Matt Herron, Herbert Randall, Maria Varela, and Tamio Wakayama. Free to all.

January 18 (Monday)
Martin Luther King Day Celebration—FREE
11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Bring the family to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Art Museum on opening weekend of the civil-rights photography exhibition This Light of Ours. In partnership with the Allentown NAACP, the Museum invites the community to enjoy free programing on this national holiday, including art activities, performance, music, and films. Here is a schedule of events:
11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Story Station
Frank Lloyd Wright Library
Visitors are invited to record their stories of the struggle during the Civil Rights Movement.

11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Visions and Voices
Crayola Classroom
In the Museum’s Crayola Classroom, kids 6 and up will create works during a one-hour art making workshop inspired by the photographs on display in the exhibition This Light of Ours. Free, but please RSVP for either the 11:30 a.m. or 3 p.m. session: 610-432-4333 ext 110. Sessions are limited to twenty-five participants.
Drop-in activity: A simplified version of Visions and Voices will be available between 12:30 and 3 p.m. to all Museum visitors. Join Museum educators and volunteers in the Crayola Classroom where you can work independently, at your own pace, and create your own work inspired by the images in This Light of Ours.

1 p.m.
Film: The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975 (2011, 92 minutes)
Rodale Classroom
This documentary examines the evolution of the Black Power Movement in American society from 1967 to 1975, featuring found footage shot by Swedish journalists (discovered some thirty years later in the cellar of Swedish Television) overlaid with commentaries and interviews from leading contemporary African American artists, activists, musicians, and scholars.

2 p.m.
Stand Up or Sit In—You Decide: An Interactive Performance by Colette Gaiter
Art Ways Interactive Family Gallery
Participants will be invited to play a kind of musical chairs with protest strategies used throughout history but especially by civil rights activists and more recently Black Lives Matter supporters and organizers.

3 p.m.
Film: 1964 (2014, 114 minutes)
Rodale Classroom
In 1964 the Beatles came to America, Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali, and three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi. See it all in this time-capsule movie.

 

January 18 (Monday)
THIS LIGHT film series @ Civic Theatre
Mississippi Burning (1988)
7:30 p.m.
The Museum continues its partnership with Civic Theatre of Allentown with a series of films in conjunction with This Light of Ours. Tonight, in the first film of the current series, Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe star as two FBI agents who arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of civil rights activists in Mississippi Burning. Tickets are $11 for Museum members and Civic members with ID, $15 general admission. Advanced sale available at www.CivicTheatre.com.

January 21 (Thursday)
The Mountaintop, a play by Katori Hall
6 p.m.
Auxiliary Auditorium
Join us for a production of The Mountaintop that will be performed only at the Allentown Art Museum, in conjunction with the Northampton Community College Theatre Department and Bill Mutimer, NCC’s assistant professor of Communications/Theatre. Members $5, nonmembers $15, students free with valid ID. Limited seating, please reserve by calling 610-432-4333 ext 110.
The Mountaintop is a gripping one-act play by playwright Kitori Hall that reimagines the events of the night before the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis on April 4, 1968. After delivering one of his most remarkable speeches, an exhausted Dr. King retires to his room at the Lorraine Motel while a storm rages outside. When a mysterious stranger arrives with some surprising news, King is forced to confront his destiny and his legacy to his people.
Following the performance, Dr. Brian Alnutt, NCC’s associate professor of History, will host a discussion of the play. Professor Alnutt teaches the course The Black Experience, which examines the rich cultural contributions made by African Americans in the areas of music, art, religion, and literature.
Memphis-born playwright Katori Hall has been described as “young, gifted and fearlessly redefining theatre.” This award-winning and phenomenally successful play had its debut in London in 2009. It was produced on Broadway in 2011 and in Washington, DC’s, Arena Stage in 2013. Hall’s 2011 play Hurt Village is heading to Hollywood, with Hall as both screenwriter and director.
Other performances:
Sunday, January 24, 1 p.m.
Thursday, January 28, 6 p.m.

 

February 18 (Thursday)
An Evening of African American Choral Music—FREE
6 p.m.
Admission to the Museum is free every Thursday evening from 4 till 8 p.m., with free programing on select evenings. Tonight, under the direction of Michael Schnack, members of the Muhlenberg College Chamber Singers present a program designed in collaboration with lecturer Roberta Meek of African American music, including "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing,” "Change Is Gonna Come," and Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday." Free to all.

February 29 (Monday)
THIS LIGHT film series @ Civic Theatre
Talk to Me (2007)
7:30 p.m.
The Museum continues its partnership with Civic Theatre of Allentown with a series of films in conjunction with This Light of Ours. Tickets are $11 for Museum members and Civic members with ID, $15 general admission. Advanced sale available at www.CivicTheatre.com. Tonight, Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor star in Talk to Me, the story of Washington, DC, radio personality Ralph "Petey" Greene, who became a popular talk show host and community activist.

March 2 (Wednesday)
50 Minutes: THIS LIGHT
noon
On the first Wednesday of the month at noon, artists, curators, and guest speakers present brief gallery talks related to our exhibitions followed by a stop at the Museum Café for lunch. Today, get a guided tour of our special exhibition This Light of Ours with insight into the images from Roberta Meek, director of the Africana Studies program at Muhlenberg College.
Members $15, nonmembers $20. Please call 610-432-4333 ext 110 to reserve.

March 6 (Sunday)
Author Aram Goudsouzian—FREE
1 p.m.
In June 1966, civil rights hero James Meredith set off on foot from Memphis, Tennessee, toward Jackson, Mississippi, hoping his march would promote black voter registration and defy racism. The next day he was shot. Listen as author Aram Goudsouzian presents the riveting story behind Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March against Fear, his engrossing story about a march that became the key turning point in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Free

March 28 (Monday)
THIS LIGHT film series @ Civic Theatre
Selma (2014)
7:30 p.m.
The Museum continues its partnership with Civic Theatre of Allentown with a series of films in conjunction with This Light of Ours. Tonight, David Oyelowo stars in Selma, a chronicle of Martin Luther King Jr.'s campaign to secure equal voting rights in a march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama. Tickets are $11 for Museum members and Civic members with ID, $15 general admission. Advanced sale available at www.CivicTheatre.com.

April 8 (Friday)
Anna Deavere Smith on Stage in a performance related to This Light of Ours
at Muhlenberg College
7 p.m.one of the most extraordinary
Hailed by Newsweek as “the most exciting individual in American theater,” actress Anna Deavere Smith uses solo performance to explore identity and community in America. She began interviewing people—now more than two thousand—across the country some twenty years ago. Without props, sets, or costumes, she translates those encounters into profound performances, each drawing verbatim from the original recorded interview. After the performance/presentation there will be a period of interaction between the audience and Smith, whose television credits include The West Wing, Black-ish, and Madame Secretary. She also has appeared in films, including Rachel Getting Married, Philadelphia, and The American President. $15 members, $20 nonmembers

April 11 (Monday)
THIS LIGHT film series @ Civic Theatre
The Butler (2013)
7:30 p.m.
The Museum continues its partnership with Civic Theatre of Allentown with a series of films in conjunction with This Light of Ours. Tonight, Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey star in The Butler, about the life of Cecil Gaines, who served eight presidents as a butler in the White House. Tickets are $11 for Museum members and Civic members with ID, $15 general admission. Advanced sale available at www.CivicTheatre.com.

April 22 (Friday)
Lyricist Lounge: A Collaboration with Lehigh Valley Faces
6:30 p.m. doors open, 7:30–9:30 p.m. showtime
Auditorium
Lyricist Lounge is an evening of music and spoken word curated by the group Lehigh Valley Faces and reminiscent of a jazz cafe or poetry club. $15 Museum members, $20 advance online purchase for nonmembers, $25 at the door for nomembers. Reservations can be made at www.LVFevents.com

May 23 (Monday)
THIS LIGHT film series @ Civic Theatre
The Heat of the Night (1967)
7:30 p.m.
The Museum continues its partnership with Civic Theatre of Allentown with a series of films in conjunction with This Light of Ours. Tonight, Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, and Warren Oates star in The Heat of the Night, the story of Virgil Tibbs, a black police detective from Philadelphia who becomes involved in a murder investigation in a racist small town in Mississippi. Tickets are $11 for Museum members and Civic members with ID, $15 general admission. Advanced sale available at www.CivicTheatre.com.

 

The Allentown Art Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that participates in the cultural, educational, and economic life of the Lehigh Valley. Defined by a unique combination of tradition and innovation, our collections, educational partnerships, collaborative and community based programs, and exhibitions are dedicated to inspiring the broadest possible public engagement, access, and service. For more information please visit AllentownArtMuseum.org.    

                                                                         

Media Contact:
Chris Potash
(610) 432-4333 ext 125 cpotash [at] allentownartmuseum [dot] org

 

###