Small Towns, Black Lives.
African American Communities in Southern New Jersey
Photographs by Wendel A. White. Text by Charles Ashley Stainback, Deborah Willis, Stedman Graham, and Clement Alexander Price.
Noyes Museum of Art, Oceanville, 2003. 184 pp., 75 duotone illustrations, 11x10".
As The Noyes Museum of Art marks its twentieth anniversary, it is appropriate that it should focus the public's attention on art of exceptional quality and powerful voice, an artist of merit, themes of cultural and social relevance, and the region it serves. In Wendel A. White's work, Small Towns, Black Lives: African American Communities in Southern New Jersey, The Noyes Museum has found a perfect conjunction of these ideally-sought qualities.
White's journey for Small Towns began in 1989, shortly after he relocated to the area to take a teaching position at Richard Stockton College. From his first visit to Cape May County's Whitesboro, a community founded by black entrepreneurs in the post-Reconstruction era, White realized there was more to the story. Indeed, what has evolved is the visual product of an artist's passion with his subject but he has added many other ingredients, including interviews, history, and a sense of place. The story that White unfolds, while unique, contains themes that transcend specific locales and speaks to the experience of a people and of a nation.
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