The very first photographs in America were captured on polished plates of silver in the 1840s. The surface of these daguerreotypes is literally a mirror, so that looking into a portrait from 160 years ago shows one’s own face superimposed on the past.
The Adams Gallery at Suffolk University presents The Mirror of Race: Seeing Ourselves through History, a photography exhibit that challenges viewers to think about what they see when they look into this mirror onto an earlier time. Interactive elements suggest reflection about how one sees race – in oneself and in others.
The exhibit includes daguerreotypes, tintypes, ambrotypes and other forms of early photography as well as prints from tintypes made by an Air National Guardsman deployed to Afghanistan. Ed Drew’s modern-day tintypes are believed to be the first battle zone photographs using this method since the American Civil War.
Suffolk University Philosophy Professor Gregory Fried, who curated the exhibit, has long been engaged in the Mirror of Race project, which encourages people to “reexamine how they see others and themselves” as they explore an online exhibition of historical American photographs. Originals of many of these images are included in the exhibit.
“These photographs have the power to surprise us, to draw us in and to offer us an opportunity to question our own ways of seeing,” said Fried. “We invite people to look into The Mirror of Race and to ask: Is it possible to change how we see?”
A Mirror of Race conference will be held Jan. 31 at Suffolk University. The conference will include speakers on the history of race and photography and on how narrative forms our identity.
The Adams Gallery is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily, except for major holidays.
The Mirror of Race: Seeing Ourselves through History
Dec. 14, 2013 - May 18, 2014
David J. Sargent Hall
120 Tremont Street, Boston