In the exhibition, Dawoud Bey: The Birmingham Project, Bey responds to the September 15, 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama—an event that resulted in six deaths of black children by white supremacists. In 2012, Bey created large-scale diptychs that commemorate this tragedy and pivotal point in the Civil Rights Movement. These portraits feature a child at the exact age of one killed in 1963 paired with a portrait of an adult at the age the child would be in the year 2013. Also on view will be Bey’s video 9.15.63, a single-channel split screen video shot in Birmingham, AL. Devoid of human presence and also following a diptych format like the photographs, the video is a meditation on that tragic early Sunday morning. Alongside Bey’s work will be a selection of prints from both the MoCP permanent collection and the Ryerson Image Centre’s Black Star Collection of photojournalism, providing a historical context for the bombing, and revealing the political and social turmoil that placed the American Civil Rights Movement in the media spotlight during the months leading up to the explosion.
The MoCP is supported by Columbia College Chicago, the MoCP Advisory Board, the Museum Council, individuals, and private and corporate foundations. The 2018-2019 exhibition season is generously sponsored by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), and the Efroymson Family Fund. This exhibition is held in conjunction with Columbia College Chicago's Collective Impact project. Learn more about the initiative here.