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
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."
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