Builder Levy I am a Man/Union Justice Now, Memphis, Tennessee, 1968 Gold-toned gelatin silver print McEvoy Family Collection © Builder Levy. Courtesy of the artist and Arnika Dawkins Gallery, Atlanta.

Builder Levy, I Am a Man/Union Justice Now, Memphis, Tennessee, 1968, gold-toned gelatin silver print. McEvoy Family Collection. © Builder Levy. Courtesy of the artist and Arnika Dawkins Gallery, Atlanta.


When Living is a Protest

Modern and contemporary photography from the McEvoy Family Collection on view in Lessons of the Hour celebrates both past and continuing struggles for civil rights in the United States.

This exhibition of photography from the McEvoy Family Collection, on view within Lessons of the Hour, is organized chronologically from 1935 to 2015. This temporal sequencing foregrounds the long struggle of social justice movements and connects the viewer to both celebrated and ephemeral moments with works such as Dan Weiner’s Bus Boycott, Montgomery Alabama 1956, Griselda San Martin’s Untitled (from the Wall) (2015), and Annie Mae Merriweather (1935), Consuela Kanaga’s classically composed portrait of a woman mourning the loss of her husband who had just been lynched. The timeline ends with Ruddy Roye’s Black Today (2015) from his When Living is a Protest series. All the images find echoes in the life and work of Frederick Douglass. And, as the Black Lives Matter movement reminds us, the struggle continues.

Curated by Mark Nash.


Susan Berger
Larry Fink
Lee Friedlander
Ed Kashi
Consuelo Kanaga
Builder Levy
Carrie Mae Weems
Carl Mydans
Lorraine O’Grady
Ruddy Roye

Griselda San Martin
Martin Schoeller
Allan Sekula
Stephen Shames
Chris Smith
Ming Smith
Rosalind Solomon
Lewis Watts
Dan Weiner


Mark Nash is an independent curator, film historian and filmmaker with a specialization in contemporary fine art moving image practices, as well as avant-garde and world cinema. He has curated or co-curated moving image exhibitions at the Museo Civico Archeologico and Artefiera Bologna; Minsheng 21st Century Art Museum, Shanghai; ZKM, Karlsruhe; and MUSAC, Leon. He collaborated regularly with the late Okwui Enwezor, including on Documenta11 and on The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945–1994 at MoMa PS1, New York. Nash previously served as Head of Department for Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art in London and is currently a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he founded the Isaac Julien Lab with Julien, his partner and long-time collaborator. He holds a PhD from Middlesex University, a MA from Cambridge University, and lives and works in London and Santa Cruz, CA.


Isaac Julien’s Lessons of the Hour—Frederick Douglass (2019) explores the life of the visionary Black writer, abolitionist, statesman, and freed slave. Incorporating excerpts from Douglass’ speeches and dramatizations of his private and public milieus, the immersive ten-screen film installation offers a contemplative, poetic journey into Douglass’ zeitgeist and a forceful suggestion that the lessons of the abolitionist’s hour have yet to be learned. The installation is joined by Julien’s tintype portraits and mise en scènes photographs of the film’s subjects. New Labor Movementsa resonant original program of film and video shorts curated by Leila Weefur, explores contemporary visions of America and concepts of transnational Blackness. A series of online conversations with these artists and invited thinkers and scholars take place throughout the run of the exhibition.

Lessons of the Hour—Frederick Douglass (2019) was originally commissioned by the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester in partnership with Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and with generous support from: Deborah Ronnen and Sherman Levey; Mark Falcone and Ellen Bruss; the Zell Family; Lori Van Dusen; Ford Foundation; VIA Art Fund; Linda Pace Foundation; Carol Weinbaum and Outset Contemporary Art Fund / CAF Canada; and University of California Santa Cruz. Special thanks to Jessica Silverman, San Francisco; the McEvoy Family Collection; Metro Pictures, New York; Victoria Miro, London/Venice.

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