Leafing through History’: Photographing Tobacco Culture and Family Farms in the Valley, Virginia and Beyond
Building on the success of our December tours, commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s leadership as President of Washington College, RHS now looks to extend our reach further afield: arranging a field trip to see two photographic and multimedia exhibits in downtown Roanoke, at the History Museum of Western Virginia, and the Taubman Museum of Art. The staffs of these partner institutions have kindly offered to welcome our group to the complementary shows at these flagship regional museums. We are not number-limited for this event, but RSVPs to email@example.com will help our planning, and can help connect those interested in carpooling.
Interested participants should meet at 1:00 PM in the downstairs lobby the History Museum, located in Roanoke’s Center in the Square Museum complex. $8 Admission can be paid at the door. The museum’s Curator will help us interpret and discuss “Distant Echoes: Black Farmers of the South,” on loan from Baltimore’s Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History, and closing at month’s end amid its national tours. The gallery’s focus on African American family farms couples a series of historic and contemporary agricultural tools and equipment, with over 50 large-frame, black and white photographic portraits and landscapes by John Francis Ficara. For more, see http://tinyurl.com/BlackFarmers .
Later, we’ll walk a block to the Taubman Museum to see their free exhibit “Tobacco People,” a global, four-year’s chronicle by Southside, VA native and Hollins College alumna, Sarah Hazelgrove. Its displays combine film, photography, innovative printing techniques, and a huge, original 16th century tobacco press from Bahia, Brazil to “document the changing faces of individuals and communities engaged in the rapidly disappearing world of tobacco cultivation.” Other elements of the exhibit are jointly presented at the Harrison Museum of African American Culture, O. Winston Link Museum, and Center in the Square. For more, see: http://tinyurl.com/TobaccoPeople .
We’ll be joined on the day by Washington and Lee’s veteran University photographer, Patrick Hinely (WLU’73, and the first to person to teach photography in the Art Department). Along with his own interpretive comments on the exhibits’ images, he’ll ask us to consider more generally how documentary and creativity play off one another. How do histories and stories ‘lens’ one another? How are they are formally arranged, framed, and narrated to shape and enrich our impressions of past and present alike?
Both exhibits provide a fine opportunity for us to compare these regional, and international traditions in culture and agriculture, with the more local legacies in Rockbridge.