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Wendel White

SPE Member since 1985
Member Chapter: Mid-Atlantic

Red Summer

The "Red Summer" portfolio explorers the locations in the American landscape where racial violence (often characterized as "Race Wars" at the time) erupted between 1917 and 1923. The conflicts reveal several aspects of racial anxiety including, though not limited to; fear of violent black revolt, lynching, citizenship (and belonging), bolshevism and competition for employment. The upheaval of "Red Summer" occurred approximately forty-five years after the American Civil War and forty-five years before the height of the Civil Rights Era.

The project contains thirty-five (35), 24" x 40" inkjet prints.

The American narrative tends to promote a narrative (among many with similar implications) that inherited values and property represent progress toward a more equitable and moral society. American exceptionalism assumes that we discard (rather than transform) the immoral values or misguided thinking of the past. Over time, advantage grows almost without effort while disadvantage becomes increasing harder to overcome.

The conceptualization of "the veil" as expressed by W.E.B DuBois, has been a visual metaphor for the representation of race within my work for several decades; particularly in the projects known as, "Schools for the Colored" and "Red Summer." The project combines photographs of the contemporary landscape made at or near the site of racial conflict, with fragments of contemporaneous newspaper reporting. The combination of the landscape photograph and the reproduction of newspaper fragments (which invade the contemporary with a narrative from the past), is a rupture and a conversation on the timeline between past and present. The newspaper, a form of public record and commentary, is a veil of information through which readers in the United States as well as many in the international community, understood and misunderstood these events.

Wilmington DE, Nov 14, 1919

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