“Framing Shadows” Exhibit

Emory University’s Robert W. Woodruff Library has unveiled a new exhibition, “Framing Shadows: Portraits of Nannies from the Robert Langmuir African American Photograph Collection.” Located in the Schatten Gallery on the third floor of the library, the display was curated by Kimberly Wallace-Sanders, Associate Professor of American and African American Studies at Emory. The exhibit features portraits of nannies from the Robert Langmuir African American Photograph Collection, housed in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, along with other literary and visual materials. Staff of the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) collaborated with Dr. Wallace-Sanders to create videos featured in the exhibit.

“Framing Shadows” supplies a counter-narrative that challenges the pervasive “mammy” stereotype (an archetype of a black woman who worked as a nanny to a white family) and encourages viewers to consider nuanced perspectives. Dr. Wallace-Sanders selected photographs from the Langmuir Collection, an extensive collection of over 12,000 photographs depicting African American life from 1840–1970.  Each image, according to Wallace-Sanders, captures a “microcosm of power dynamics involving race, gender, class, status, age, and domestic labor relations.” This exhibition is a prelude to her forthcoming book, Framing Shadows: African American Women and White Children in Domestic Portraiture.

Photograph of a portion of the Framing Shadows exhibit featuring video created/edited by ECDS staff alongside photographs from the Langmuir collection.

Steve Bransford and Tesla Cariani of the ECDS assisted in filming and editing interviews with Dr. Wallace-Sanders to create short videos for the exhibition. These videos contextualize the displayed photographs, highlight the Langmuir collection, and present Dr. Wallace-Sander’s approach to looking deeply into complex inter-racial relationships in American life.

You can read more about the exhibit in the following Emory Libraries article: “Framing Shadows” exhibition examines lives of African American nannies (February 21, 2019)

Event link (Trumba): HERE