Professor Amy M. Mooney, Terra Foundation Visiting Professor in American Art. Hosted by TORCH. Moderator: Professor Deborah Willis, Department of Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.
In this four-part lecture series, Professor Amy Mooney examines the central role portraiture played in fostering social change in the United States from the 1890s through the 1950s. Drawing from her forthcoming book, Portraits of Noteworthy Character, Professor Mooney considers the strategic visual campaigns generated by individuals and social institutions that used the portrait to advance their progressive political ideologies. From the etiquette texts used at historically black colleges to the post cards produced by Hull House to the Harmon Foundation’s exhibition of “Portraits of Outstanding Americans of Negro Origin,” this series explores the ways in which the portrait was employed to build social relationships and negotiate modern subjectivity.
Through the advancements in technology and printing, photography becomes the most accessible form through which individuals could determine how they wanted to be seen. The burgeoning black media ensured the publication and circulation of photographic portraits, as well as the development of a modern criticality through the act of representation. In this lecture, Professor Mooney explores how, in collaboration with their patrons, African American commercial photographers generated a body politic that fostered racial equality through portraiture.