NYU Kimmel Windows Displays “The Black Civil War Soldier”, Curated by Deborah Willis

NYU Kimmel Windows Present “The Black Civil War Soldier”, by Deborah Willis.

The New York University Kimmel Windows Gallery presents The Black Civil War Soldier, opening Oct. 27. Curated by Deborah Willis, chair of NYU Tisch’s Department of Photography and Imaging, The Black Civil War Soldier is based on a book of the same name published by NYU Press. In the displays are portraits of black soldiers that are connected to the concept of democracy and citizenship expressed by abolitionist and public speaker Frederick Douglass. These portraits come from a variety of background, such as battlegrounds, campgrounds, and even photographic studios.

In this exhibition, Willis seeks to engage the public in that sense of activism and highlight the various acts of courage by black men and women, both bonded and free, during the Civil War; as well as the rewards they received.

These are experiences shared by all the soldiers, no matter their backgrounds.

Willis states that “Memory, personal and public, as viewed through the experience of photography, shaped the history of the black Civil War soldier. This exhibition synthesizes that history—both difficult and desired. We seek out memorials about slavery and the Civil War in the North and the South. We are engrossed in public debates about the relevance of monuments from Stone Mountain to Grant’s Tomb,”

“There is something about looking at images that forces me to question the narratives of the past. I have long been puzzled by the imagery of black peoples, and I have tried to make sense of the story that has been told. Images represent visual responses to what we may have been told about a period and prompt such questions as, ‘How was black male identity formed by images of soldiers in uniform?’” she continued.

The visual art of history, conflict, war, and citizenship are drawn from Willis’ book. She learned of relationships between soldiers and others, family ties, opposing views on war, and hardships of all people.

Located along Laguardia Place and West 3rd Street, right next to Washington Square Park, The Black Civil War Soldier will be open to the public 24/7. It will be on display until March 1st, 2023.

Learn more out the exhibition here.