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Clark Art Lecture on Photography's Influence on African American Civil War Narratives
04:00PM / Tuesday, April 05, 2022
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Clark Art Institute presents a virtual talk by Deborah Willis, author of "The Black Civil War Soldier," exploring the role of photography in shaping African American narratives of the Civil War. 
Willis's lecture, "(Re)telling Stories in Photography About The Black Civil War Soldier," will be broadcast via Zoom and Facebook Live (@clarkartinstitute) on Saturday, April 9, at 2 pm.
Though both the Union and Confederate armies excluded African American men from their initial calls to arms, many of the men who eventually served were black. Simultaneously, the emerging art of photography blossomed—marking the Civil War as the first conflict to be extensively documented through photographs. 
In her book, Willis shows how photography helped construct a national vision of blackness, war, and bondage, and uses these early photographs to unearth the hidden histories of black Civil War soldiers. Willis has compiled a captivating memoir of photographs and words and examines them together to address themes of love and longing; responsibility and fear; commitment and patriotism; and—most predominantly—African American resilience.
Willis's talk is presented in conjunction with the Clark's exhibition "As They Saw It: Artists Witnessing War." On view in the Eugene V. Thaw Gallery of the Clark's Manton Research Center through May 30, this exhibition presents four centuries of war imagery from Europe and the United States.
Advance registration is required to view the Zoom transmission. Registrants will receive an email with a private Zoom link before the event. The event will also be broadcast via Facebook Live. For more information and to register, visit
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