|Vol. 17, No. 16||Jan. 8, 1998|
Polk's images of Southern life- from the dignitaries who visited Tuskegee, and the middle-class African Americans who frequented his private studio, to the farmers and laborers who worked the cotton fields of rural Macon County- exemplify the photographer's keen ability for telling a riveting human story through the camera's eye.
Included in this exhibition are vintage photographs of the acclaimed scientist, George Washington Carver-in his lab conducting experiments, in the fields surveying crop conditions, lecturing students and pursuing leisure activities. Carver, like Polk, served as both an educator and a mentor for the students of Tuskegee and inspired many throughout the nation. Polk's photographs of Carver provide an extraordinary vehicle for communicating the truth and legend of this charismatic figure.
Numerous interpretive programs are planned for the public during the University Gallery's exhibition of the photographs of P.H. Polk. Guest lectures, gallery tours and special events for children and families are all scheduled during the exhibition.
Most events are free, although some workshops have a nominal materials charge. Some events require advanced registration. Unless otherwise noted, all events take place in the gallery located in Old College.
An opening reception is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 9, from 6-9 p.m. The reception is preceded at 5 p.m. by a discussion and exhibition tour with art historian Amalil K. Amaki of Spelman College, Atlanta, who will present "To Make a Picture: The Photography of P.H. Polk."
A performance of songs with a river theme by bass-baritone Kenneth Anderson at the exhibition's opening reception is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Anderson, a folksinger with a love of Negro spirituals, will draw from the repertoire of Paul Robeson. He will be accompanied by pianist George Broske.
(In the event of inclement weather, the opening reception will take place one week later, from 6-9 p.m., Friday, Jan, 16.)
Other events include:
"Meet George Washington Carver!," a workshop for children ages 5-9, will be offered from 2-3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7, and again on Saturday, March 7. The program is designed to introduce participants to the images and life of George Washington Carver, "The Peanut Man." The workshop will feature hands-on activities, peanut refreshments and a special surprise guest. Enrollment is limited to 25 children, with accompanying parent or guardian, and pre-registration is required by calling 831-8242. The event is free. Participants are asked to arrive by 1:50 p.m.
"Images and Portraits, Parts I & II" is a two-part workshop designed to help children discover their environment and the people in it through simple photography. The workshop is being offered from 2-3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, March 21. Children ages 9-14 will receive a one-use camera, which they will use and return for processing. At the second session, participants will create a document of their world through the pictures they have made. A $5 fee covers both workshop, and pre-registration is required for both parts. Enrollment is limited to 15. Participants are asked to arrive by 1:50 p.m.
A "Music Makers Workshop" with Eddie Cohee of Caesar Rodney High School, a music educator whose innovative methods will stir the imagination of budding artists, is scheduled from 2-4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 14. Participants will meet such legends as W.C. Handy (the "Father of the Blues"), Lena Horne and Paul Robeson through the eyes of photographer P.H. Polk, then try their hand at creating genuine African "shekere" (gourd drums) and composing their own blues/jazz songs. The event is open to children ages l0 and above. Pre-registration is required, by calling 831-8242. Cost is $5. Enrollment is limited to 20, and participants are urged to arrive by 1:50 p.m.
Tuesday Brown Bag Lectures on various topics related to Polk and his work are scheduled at noon once a month. Those attending are encouraged to bring their lunch and enjoy a thought-provoking and visually stimulating time. Beverages will be provided. Pre-registration is not required. The lectures are free and open to the public.
Guided tours of the exhibit will be offered on selected Sunday afternoons. Gallery staff will guide interested persons through the P.H. Polk exhibition noting highlights of his work. Pre-registration is not required for these free, public tours. There is no age limit; however, tours are geared toward adults. Tours will be held from 4-5 p.m. on Sundays, Feb. 15, March 29 and April 5.
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Please note that for events requiring pre-registration every effort will be made to accommodate non-registered participants on a space available basis. However, priority will be given to pre-registered participants and those on the waiting list. Enrollment limits will be strictly observed in the case of fully-subscribed workshops.
The University Gallery is located on the second floor of Old College. Hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 1-5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. The University Gallery is closed on Mondays and all University holidays.
The gallery is wheelchair accessible and those individuals requesting disability accommodations are encouraged to call at least 10 days prior to an event. For more information, call 831-8242, fax 831-8251 or TDD 831-4563. Visit the University Gallery on-line: http://seurat.art.udel.edu
Prentice Herman Polk was born in 1898 in Bessemer, Ala., the son of a mine worker and a seamstress. Polk studied photography under C.M. Battey at Tuskegee, but before receiving a degree, left to start a career in Chicago. While there, he took courses in photography while apprenticed to Fred Jensen. In 1927, he returned to Tuskegee and opened a private portrait studio.
He photographed such influential people as George Washington Carver, W.C. Handy, Paul Robeson, Will Rogers, Joe Louis, Henry Ford and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Polk also ventured outside the university community in search of subjects and found Macon County to be full of possibilities, including portraits of local sharecroppers and agricultural workers.