A Stirring Song Sung Heroic: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom, 1619 to 1865

William Earle Williams’ A Stirring Song Sung Heroic documents the spaces of American slavery and freedom through photographs. September 6–October 11, Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery.

What is freedom? How have we determined it for ourselves and how has it been determined for others in America? And how do the events of the past forever mark the landscapes of the present? These are just some of the questions that photographer William Earle Williams asks via 80 black-and-white silver gelatin prints in A Stirring Song Sung Heroic: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom 1619 to 1865.

In the first show of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery’s 2013/14 season, Williams, Haverford College’s Audrey A. and John L. Dusseau Professor in the Humanities, professor of fine arts, and curator of photography at Haverford College, documents anonymous, unheralded places across the “New World,” from the Caribbean to North America. Those images—sites of Civil War battles, slave cabins and cemeteries, stops along the Underground Railroad, and present-day historical monuments—help to tell a visual story of American slavery, especially when shown alongside a sampling of Williams’ collection of historical artifacts (books, letters, maps) that he uses to develop and inspire his work.

A Stirring Song Sung Heroic, which will run from September 6 through October 11, is presented by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities, Haverford College, and Lehigh University Art Galleries. The exhibit will also be shown at Lehigh from January 22 through May 25, 2014.

William Earle Williams has been at Haverford College since 1978. He received his M.F.A in photography from Yale University School of Art, and holds a B.A. in history from Hamilton College. His photographs have been widely exhibited at venues including the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Art, the Cleveland Art Museum, and the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Pa. Williams’ photographs are in many public collections including the National Gallery of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Baltimore Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has curated over 80 exhibitions, which have included work by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, Paul Strand, and Harold Edgerton, among others. A 1997 Pew Fellow in the Arts, Williams has also received numerous fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for 2003–2004.

Williams will give a gallery talk for A Stirring Song Sung Heroic: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom, 1619 to 1865 on Friday, September 6, 2013, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. A reception will follow from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. in the Gallery.

Part of the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and located in Whitehead Campus Center, the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Wednesdays until 8 p.m. For more information, contact Matthew Seamus Callinan, associate director of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery and campus exhibitions, at (610) 896-1287 or mcallina@haverford.edu, or check haverford.edu/exhibits.

Haverford College is located at 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, PA, 19041