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PHOTOGRAPHS REFLECT MEANING OF RACE
Most people may think of freedom and equality when they see a picture of the Statue of Liberty, but for others it evokes thoughts of oppression and injustice. Why does one image produce such opposing responses?

That question spurred philosophy professor Gregory Fried and storyteller Derek Burrows to study the impact of social and cultural realities that lead people to develop varying interpretations of the same image. Since 2000, they have collaborated on "The Mirror of Race," an examination of racial perceptions and beliefs in 19th century America as portrayed in photography from that era. They shared some of their work while visiting Trinity March 4 and 5.

"Our project is designed to stimulate conversations about the meaning of race in the past and its implications for the future," said Fried, who teaches at California State-Los Angeles. "One photograph can tell dozens of compelling stories about the image it captures because each person who views it brings a unique set of ideas and experiences to that photograph. Those ideas and experiences form a story, and our stories affect the ways we look at and interpret photography."

Fried and Burrows displayed pictures of slaves and free people in a wide range of settings from the 1840s through the 1870s. They described how blacks and whites differed in their viewpoints of how photography depicted race during that time and in the present. Burrows narrated a story and encouraged the audience to discover and explore their reactions to certain pictures.

"We all have our individual thoughts about race in this country," he said. "It's important to understand where those thoughts come from. By examining our own stories and reflecting on how we developed them, we can address the meaning of race in today's society and in the future."

Related Links:
Mirror of Race

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