This retrospective of African American photographer Charles "Teenie" Harris (1908–1998), features Harris’s most beautiful, appealing, and historically significant images. Harris’s photographs—made in his studio and for the Pittsburgh Courier, the leading black newspaper of the time—chronicle a vibrant black urban community during the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras. He captured the poetry of everyday common experience, as well as the extraordinary people who shaped the 20th century: entertainer Lena Horne, baseball star Jackie Robinson, and leaders such as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.
The exhibition was organized by the Carnegie Museum of Art which, in 2001, was entrusted with the archive of nearly 80,000 Teenie Harris negatives. Drawing on 10 years of research into the archive, Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story features immersive life-size projections combined with a newly commissioned jazz soundtrack. A large-scale chronology and a web-based interactive introduce visitors to the rich visual resources of the archive and offer access to firsthand accounts by Harris’s contemporaries. The final section of the exhibition is dedicated to an in-depth evaluation of Harris as an artist.
Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a traveling version of the NEH-supported exhibition, originally mounted at the Carnegie Museum of Art from October 29, 2011–April 7, 2012.