In the second volume of The Black Photographers Annual, editor and publisher Joe Crawford included an interview with P. H. Polk (1898–1984), the official photographer at Tuskegee University for nearly 50 years. Accompanied by a portfolio of Polk’s photographs, the entry began with this quote: “A number of students at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama told The Black Photographers Annual that looking at the works of P. H. Polk was like a study in Black history.” It was Chester Higgins, a student at Tuskegee, who introduced Polk’s work to the Annual.
P. H. Polk (Portfolio Title)
1932, printed 1981, P.H. Polk (1898–1984), gelatin silver printed on AGFA paper. Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
The Artist’s Great-Aunt Shugg Lampley
New Brockton, Alabama, 1968, Chester Higgins, American (born 1946), gelatin silver print. National Endowment for the Arts Fund for American Art
This exhibition pairs Polk’s photographs with a selection of the early work of Higgins, who went on to greater recognition as staff photographer for the New York Times. Their images illustrate the Annual’s commitment to publish the works of contemporary photographers while simultaneously recovering and preserving the work of previous generations.
Curated by Dr. Sarah Eckhardt, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Chester Higgins and P. H. Polk, is the second in a series of rotations exploring the four volumes of the Black Photographers Annual (1973–80).
This exhibition is the second of four rotations that explore each of the four volumes of The Black Photographers Annual, which ended in 1980.