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Documenting Our Past: The Teenie Harris Archive Project


On view at Carnegie Museum of Art

In honor of the 101st birthday of the great chronicler of African American life in Pittsburgh, this exhibition pairs classic photographs by Charles "Teenie" Harris with prize-winning snapshots by children living in Pittsburgh neighborhoods today. Following in the footsteps of the legendary Teenie Harris, these local children have photographed the meaningful people, places, and things in their lives. The show is guest-curated by Teenie's oldest son, Charles A. "Teenie" Harris.



The Man behind the Camera: Teenie "One Shot" Harris

The man behind the camera was my dad. The legacy of One Shot as an outstanding photographer and photojournalist has already been established. Many have admired and enjoyed his work. But, what makes his work so great? It was the man. Under any criteria he was a remarkable man. He was an excellent dancer and he did some singing as well. He played professional baseball and professional basketball. It was this extremely rich background and experience that he was able to call upon as he launched his photographic career. This exhibition explores the tremendous breadth of his work, which he amassed over a span of more than 40 years.

Dad was born in Pittsburgh. He loved Pittsburgh with a passion. Through his photos we have been able to retain many cherished memories, despite the ravaging of Pittsburgh's urban renewal program as it mutilated the once-thriving Hill District. It appears that in the name of progress we are forced to accept both improvement and destruction.

When Dad went to work with the Pittsburgh Courier, it was the most renowned African American newspaper of the day. It was a powerful force and the leading voice for minorities. Dad was disturbed by the negative manner in which African Americans were depicted by the mainstream press. He wanted a more evenhanded approach, and the Courier proved to be the perfect vehicle to get this message across.

More information: http://www.cmoa.org/teenie/info.asp

Legendary photographer Charles "Teenie" Harris (1908-98) captured the black communities of Pittsburgh for more than 60 years, with an essence of family, hope, dignity and celebration at the core of his craft.

His archive portrays the strength and vitality of a thriving black community, from the most acclaimed to the most ordinary subjects.

In 2001, Carnegie Museum of Art purchased Harris' archive of nearly 80,000 photographic negatives, few of which are titled and dated. The archive, a richly detailed record of public personalities and events, and the daily lives of average people, is considered one of the most important documentations of 20th-century life in the black community.

Now, 184 of those images are on display in the museum's Forum Gallery, in the third installment of selections from the Harris collection to go on display there.

As in the previous "Teenie" Harris shows, this exhibit, titled "Documenting Our Past: The Teenie Harris Archive Project, Part Three," features photographs selected by a guest curator, and members of the public are invited to help identify the images on display.

More information: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/ae/theater/s_642457.html

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