While there is an array of experiences interwoven into the tapestry of Black fatherhood, there are often perpetuated stereotypes that illustrate Black men as absent fathers. A new Washington, D.C.-based exhibit is using photography as a means to empower Black dads to reclaim their narratives.
The exhibition—dubbed “Framing Fatherhood“—is a collective of 75 poignant photographs that center Black joy and give an authentic lens into the experiences of Black men. The visual exhibit serves as a celebratory ode to the roles. Black men play in their families, communities and the greater society. Through the images captured by 14 Black male photographers, “Framing Fatherhood” aims to dispel misconceptions about Black boyhood and manhood and foster conversations surrounding how they are perceived in society.
The photojournalism exhibit is curated by Dr. Imani M. Cheers, founder & director of the initiative It Takes a Village: Basics of Boyhood and Messages for Manhood; a project with a mission rooted in examining how social media influences the “public and mental health” of the Black community. “Launching this exhibit is a love project and very intentional—the artists selected, their specific images included, the title, the upcoming book. All of it celebrates the beautiful images of Black men not seen in mainstream media,” Dr. Cheers shared in a statement. “The goal of the exhibition is to celebrate Black men and fathers through the lens of iconic Black male photographers who make up our creative village.”
Amongst the photographers included in the exhibition are Brooklyn-bred visual storyteller Jamel Shabazz, Baltimore photographer Devin Allen who was behind the lens of the “Baltimore Uprising” photo that was taken during the protests following Freddie Gray’s death and landed on TIME’s May 2015 cover, and Washington, D.C.-based combat veteran and documentary photographer Michael A. McCoy. Other photographers include Tau Battice, Reese Bland, Steven John Irby, Quinton Pete, Anthony Geathers, D. Michael Cheers, Russell Frederick, Erskine Issac, Reggie Cunningham, Khary Mason and Michael Young.
“Framing Fatherhood” officially opened on June 18 and will run through July 31 at George Washington University’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design.
Several artistic projects have been created to celebrate Black fathers. The nonprofit Black Women Cultivating Change debuted a film titled “Presence Over Presents” that delves into the fatherhood journeys of Black men in Cincinnati.