A Powerful Influence: Early Photographs of African Americans from the Collection of Dennis O. WilliamsVisit Website
Introduced in 1839, photography revolutionized how ordinary people saw themselves and others. In the two decades following its invention, photography spread rapidly across the United States and played a crucial role in shaping concepts of identity, family, citizenship, and race. Drawn from the collection of Dennis O. Williams and presented in the Photography Gallery, some 25 portraits of Black Americans—some enslaved, others free—offer a powerful and poignant way to explore these complicated histories. This installation, which includes daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, and early works on paper made from the 1840s through the 1880s, features a small selection of work by Ball. This installation was conceived to complement the upcoming exhibition Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour—Frederick Douglass.