Schools for the Colored by Wendel White was shown as part of the DEVELOP Photo line-up for the first edition of the On Photography Online Film Festival, 9/29/13. The Festival was part of the FOTOWEEK in Holland, an initiative of FOAM and the Netherlands Photo Museum, and was organized by Barbera Brakel of Photo Affairs. opfestival.nl/
Schools for the Colored is an extension of the ideas that formed my project Small Towns, Black Lives, in that; it is a continuation of my journey through the African American landscape. I began making photographs of historically African American school buildings during the very first weeks of the Small Towns, Black Lives project more than twenty years ago. In Schools for the Colored I began to pay attention to the many structures and sites (also making photographs of places where segregated schools once stood) that operated as segregated schools.
These photographs depict the buildings and landscapes that were associated with the system of racially segregated schools established at the southern boundaries of the northern United States. This area, sometimes referred to as “Up-South,” encompasses the northern “free” states that bordered the slave states. Schools for the Colored is the representation the duality of racial distinction within American culture. The “veil” (the digital imaging technique of obscuring the landscape surrounding the schools) is a representation of DuBois’ concept, informing the visual narrative in these photographs. Some of the images depict sites where the original structure is no longer present. As a placeholder, I have inserted silhouettes of the original building or what I imagine of the appearance of the original building. The architecture and geography of America’s educational Apartied, in the form of a system of “colored schools,” within the landscape of southern New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois is the central concern of this project.
Wendel A. White was born in Newark, New Jersey and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. He was awarded a BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York and an MFA in photography from the University of Texas at Austin. White taught photography at the School of Visual Arts, NY; The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, NY; the International Center for Photography, NY; Rochester Institute of Technology; and is currently Distinguished Professor of Art at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
He has received various awards and fellowships including a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Photography, two artist fellowships from the New Jersey State Council for the Arts, a photography grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and a New Works Photography Fellowship from En Foco Inc.
His work is represented in museum and corporate collections including: En Foco, New York, NY; Rochester Institute of Technology, NY; the Museum of Fine Art, Houston, TX; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL; Haverford College, PA; Johnson and Johnson, New Brunswick, NJ; Chase Manhattan Bank; the Paul R. Jones Collection of African American Art at University of Delaware; Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University, WI; and the NYPL Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, NY. In January 2003 the Noyes Museum of Art mounted a retrospective exhibition of the Small Towns, Black Lives project, including 13 years of images and an exhibition catalogue of the same title.
White has served on the board of directors for the Society for Photographic Education and was elected board chair for three years. He has served on the Kodak Educational Advisory Council and NJ Save Outdoor Sculpture. He is currently a board member of the New Jersey Black Culture and Heritage Foundation and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.
His interest in electronic media led to the creation of a web-based presentation of the Small Towns, Black Lives project that went on-line in 1995 as a web site called The Cemetery (the images are now included in Small Towns, Black Lives at blacktowns.org). His current projects include, Schools for the Colored, Manifest, and Seven Steps to Freedom (a public art commission).
His work is included in various publications: Posing Beauty by Deborah Willis, exposure magazine, Neuva Luz, and Photo Review, among many others. Images from Village of Peace: An African American Community in Israel were published in Transition magazine (Vol. 97), by the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
This video is part of the DEVELOP Tube Photography Video Channel which can be found at DEVELOP Tube: Photography to Watch. DEVELOP Tube is an educational resource which features interviews, profiles, lectures & films about photojournalism, fine art photography & documentary photography.