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Ron Tarver

Fri, Sept 2 - Sun, Oct 9, 2022

Old City Photo Walk with artist remarks: begins Sat, Sept. 24, 11am

Film Screening, Black Memorabilia by Chico Colvard, with artist Q&A: Sun, Sept. 25, 2-3:30pm

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28 South 2nd St, 3rd Floor Galleries, Philadelphia, PA
M-W: 10AM - 5PM | Thu-F: 10AM - 6PM | Sat: 10AM - 5PM | Sun: 10AM - 2PM

Appointments advised: susanna@susannaWgold or 610-368-6927

In this current body of work, Ron Tarver explores his own racial identity and experiences as a Black artist by addressing the problematic nature of Black memorabilia and collectibles. Most created during the Jim Crow era, these objects present demeaning representations of African Americans through exaggerated facial features such as lips, noses, and hair. The word "shine" also emerged during Jim Crow as a racist slur towards Black people, commenting on African Americans who made a living shining the shoes of white people. Tarver used a large format film camera and printed in black and white on a highly reflective archival paper further emphasizing the shine, or glossy surface of these objects. While Black memorabilia is widely collected and still being produced, some with very high market values, they represent a legacy of racism and belittlement of a people simply due to skin color.

Tarver is an Associate Professor of Studio Art specializing in Photography at Swarthmore College. He previously served as staff photographer at the Philadelphia Inquirer for 32 years where he shared a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for his work on a series documenting school violence in the Philadelphia public school system and was nominated for a second Pulitzer in 2013 for a series exploring dog-training programs in prisons. A recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, Tarver has also received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Independence Foundation. He was named one of the Delaware Valley's "50 Rising Stars in the Arts" by Seven Arts Magazine and has also been a Center for Emerging Visual Artists Fellow. Tarver's work has appeared in National Geographic, Life, Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, and Black and White Magazine. He is co-author of the book We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans, published by Harper Collins in 2004, which was accompanied by a traveling exhibition. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in over 30 solo and 50 group exhibitions and is included in many private, corporate, and museum collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Woodmere Art Museum, the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, the Oklahoma Museum of History, the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art, and the National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution.



Photographer Ron Tarver

In addition to the Opening Reception on Fri, Sept. 2, 5-7pm, special events during the exhibition include:

20/20 Photo Festival Photo Walk with Artist Remarks: begins Sat, Sept. 24, 11am
This guided neighborhood Photo Walk immediately following the artist’s talk offers professional and amateur photographers the opportunity to take photos and interact with other area photographers. The Photo Walk will end at approximately 1pm at the 20/20 Photo Festival Book Fair at the Cherry Street Pier.

Film Screening with Artist Q&A: Black Memorabilia by Chico Colvard, Sun, Sept. 25, 2-3:30pm
This 55-minute film moves beyond perverse attractions and absolute objections to collectibles and antiques that serve as reminders of America’s troubled racial history. The film combats a set of generalized stereotypes by presenting an intimate and poetic portrait of the people who consume, manufacture and assume the identities of these objects. 

All events are free and open to the public. Unique Photo is elevator accessible.

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