Ghosts of Segregation: Rich Frishman
December 1, 2019 – February 1, 2020
Artists Reception: Saturday, Dec 14, 6-9pm
In Conversation: Rich Frishamn & Jennifer Williams: Dec 14, 6:30pm
“Rich Frishman uses his camera as a tool of preservation by photographing the physical remnants of institutional racism. “Ghost of Segregation” is a poetic illumination on America’s complicated racial history.” – Richard McCabe, Ogden Museum of Southern Art
At 6:30pm on December 14th, Rich Frishman will be joined by Jennifer Williams, Youth and Family Programs Manager of the New Orleans Museum of Art, for a conversation about his work. Williams formerly served as the Deputy Director for the Public Experience for Prospect.4, and was Director and Curator of the George and Leah McKenna Museum of African American Art for six years. She currently serves as Exhibitions Chair for the New Orleans Photo Alliance.
Our built environment is society’s autobiography writ large. Because we rarely consider our constructions as evidence of our priorities, beliefs and desires, the testimony our landscape tells is perhaps more honest than anything we might intentionally present. All human landscape has cultural meaning.
We often take our daily environments for granted, but within even the most mundane edifice may lurk an important bit of history. That stairway apparently to nowhere once went somewhere. The curious palimpsest of bricks covers something. What purpose did they serve?
My photography project, “Ghosts of Segregation,” explores the vestiges of America’s racism evident in the built environment, yet hidden in plain sight: Schools for “colored” children, theatre entrances and restrooms for “colored people,” lynching sites, juke joints, jails, hotels and bus stations. While much of the images are from the Deep South, prejudice has no geographic boundaries, nor is it limited to blacks and whites. Fear and tribalism has led to the stereotyping and dehumanization of many: Hispanics, Asians, LGBTQ, anyone who is perceived as “the other.”
Past is prologue. Segregation is as much current events as it is history. These ghosts haunt us because they are very much alive today.
Born and raised in Chicago, Rich Frishman studied with artists Reed Estabrook, Robbert Flick and Art Sinsabaugh at the University of Illinois, where he received a BA in Communications. He is a natural storyteller with roots in photojournalism, and those ethics still inform his work.
Rich Frishman’s photography is held in private and institutional collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Amon Carter Museum. His work has garnered prestigious awards, including two Sony World Photography Awards (2018), the 2019 Curator’s Choice Award from Review Santa Fe, the 2018 PhotoNOLA Review Prize, Communication Arts Photography Award (2018), Photo District News Photo Annual (2018), Michael H. Kellicutt Award, International Photo Annual Award, and Critical Mass finalist twice. Houston’s Biennal FotoFest will feature Ghosts of Segregation in their 2020 keynote exhibition at Spring Street Studio, Ten by Ten (formerly Discoveries of the Meeting Place.) He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1983.
Frishman lectures around the US, including the New Orleans Museum of Art and Sony Square in New York, about the intersection of the designed environment, history and social issues.