Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Controversy and Hope

Title: Controversy and Hope: The Civil Rights Photographs of James Karales
Authors: Julian Cox with Rebekah Jacob and Monica Karales
Publisher: University of South Carolina Press

In Short: The photographs in this book tell a story of life in the impoverished south and the behind the scenes of the civil rights movement more than it talks about the actual civil rights protests and marches. This is also the story of this one photographer, Karales and how opportunity and skill can position someone to change the world through his/her lens.

My Thoughts: I was expecting the" in your face" violence of some of Bill Hudson's work, like the photo of Parker High School student Walter Gadsen being attacked by a police dog in Birmingham, Alabama. I was even expecting more of the photos like Karales' photo of the march from Selma to Montgomery - the one that is taken from below and shows the mass of faceless people with the dark clouds looming above. The authors do include that. I especially liked the photo of Martin Luther King Jr. speaking from the motel balcony paired with the photo from below of the people listening to him with the story in their faces. However, what struck me about these photos were the intimate storytelling possible when Karales honed his artist eye on small events like Martin Luther King Jr. playing with his daughter in their kitchen. Even more haunting than seeing the violence on the street were the photos Karales took of the non-violent protesters practicing passive resistance training in what looked like a basement in Atlanta. As someone from Hawaii, I also appreciated the photo of Dr. King arm in arm with Rev. Abernathy, Rabbi Eisendrath and Rabbi Heschel, all of them with leis on. For me that was the iconic Dr. King photo when I was a school girl and I'm glad I now know about the life of this photographer.

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