"As soon as the photograph of Ieshia Evans began to circulate online, people said she looked like a superhero," Teju Cole wrote in a beautiful piece this weekend about Jonathan Bachman's recent Black Lives Matter photograph—the one I wrote about here.
Superhero movies may not be great cinema, he writes, but "superheroes are a cultural force. They fill a psychological need in a world of drift and inchoate war. ... For the brief moment immortalized by a photograph, the impossible happens, and we are encouraged."
Yesterday in the Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Gallery at Seattle Art Museum, I found myself alone with a small, relatively quiet selection of Civil Rights-era photographs in a display inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, called Go Tell It.
The show is in a back corner of the museum, easy to miss; you have to go find it (and it will be there through January 8).
These prints—by Roy DeCarava, Marion Post Wolcott, Danny Lyon, Dan Budnik, and more—are modest in size and bear a certain modesty in attitude. I was drawn to their dimensions of group solidarity, everyday survival, to their quiet. I was drawn to the ones in which only the possible happens, yet we still can be encouraged.
Then there's James Baldwin's face, which seems to say it all.