Students in Professor Anna Arabindan-Kesson’s fall 2019 course, “Seeing to Remember: Representing Slavery Across the Black Atlantic,” curated this exhibition, which includes photographs recently acquired by the Museum to expand its engagement with the visual history of slavery in the United States.
We think of the artworks assembled here as cultural and geographical landscapes. They span multiple time periods, from the eighteenth century to the present day, and depict both the physical and the metaphorical space that Black people occupy in the United States and the Caribbean. They represent both the lived realities of enslavement and the aftermath of plantation life. While some of these scenes may be more familiar representations of slavery than others, all of these objects are imbued with emotional, corporeal, and generational memories of slavery.
As you move through the exhibition, we hope you will also consider how the history of slavery is embedded within Princeton University’s history. The Princeton and Slavery project and the Campus Iconography Committee have drawn new attention to the histories of slavery and the lives of African Americans at Princeton, through digital walking tours and new commemorative spaces. Although this exhibition is not a memorial in the same way, these works of art also compel us—in sometimes difficult ways—to confront the historical horrors of slavery and, as the photograph by Danny Lyon reminds us, its continuing legacies today.
Amy Amatya, Natalie Bahrami, Runako Campbell, Katie Kuhlman, Chelsea Peart, Arianne Rowe