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Columbia College Chicago

Dawoud Bey at Birmingham Museum of Art


Birmingham Museum of Art

Acclaimed photographer Dawoud Bey presents an exhibition of portraits, which symbolically commemorates the four young girls and two boys whose lives were lost on September 15, 1963, in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. As some of the youngest victims of the Civil Rights Movement, Addie Mae Collins (14), Denise McNair (11), Carole Robertson (14), and Cynthia Wesley (14) are memorialized along with Virgil Ware (13) and Johnny Robinson (16), two Birmingham boys who lost their lives as a result of the violence that followed the bombing.

To create the portraits, Bey photographed girls, women, boys, and men who currently reside in Birmingham. The subjects represent the ages of the young victims at the time of their deaths, and the ages they would be were they alive today. Along with the portraits, Bey also created a video shot in locations throughout Birmingham entitled 9.15.63. The video evokes the mood of that day: an ordinary Sunday morning, propelled into tragedy by senseless violence. Without specifically referencing the incidents, the project serves as a memorial to lives lost, a message of hope, and a promise for the future.

Presented by PNC Bank. The catalogue is sponsored by EBSCO Media.

Art Speaks: 50 Years Forward is sponsored by Alabama Power Company, Protective Life Corporation, the City of Birmingham Mayor's Office, Vulcan Materials Corporation, and the Joseph S. Bruno Charitable Foundation.

The exhibition of 16 diptych photographs and the single channel split screen video 9.15.63 opens on Sunday, September 8th.