Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom is a dynamic exhibition that addresses critical subjects that shaped the life’s work of Douglass and continue to be at the forefront of today’s sociopolitical discourse. This project makes visible the historic narrative of the Douglasses and their unwavering commitment to transatlantic abolitionism and radical reform, not only for African Americans but for society as a whole. Additionally, this exhibition offers an expanded definition of Douglass, as it considers him not only as a key figure for civil rights but also an advocate for women’s suffrage, one of the first proponents of photographic theory and, perhaps most distinctively, as a family man.
Key issues examined within this exhibition include: the value of family, representation and visibility, archival methodologies, the legacy of slavery, black resistance and intergenerational struggle. The Douglass family’s archival materials have been brought into view alongside special commissions by artists Onyedika Chuke, TR Ericsson, Glyneisha Johnson, Le’Andra LeSeur (B.F.A., photography, 2014), and Charles Edward Williams (B.F.A, advertising, 2006); as well as master works by Jacob Lawrence and Charles White held within the SCAD Permanent Collection; and critical objects by some of the leading figures of contemporary art such as Lyle Ashton Harris, Titus Kaphar, LaToya Ruby Frazier, and Betye Saar. Together, this holistic grouping of artwork provides viewers with the opportunity to consider the past and present circumstances in which the ongoing fight for social justice has taken place. In this exhibition, there is hope that viewers will be galvanized by the monumental feats of this "First Family of African American History," to carry on the torch of activism.
Omar Victor Diop
LaToya Ruby Frazier
Lyle Ashton Harris
James Van Der Zee
Charles Edward Williams
Wilmer Wilson IV
Douglass-related projects The Golden March by Raphaël Barontini and Frederick Douglass: Lessons of the Hour by Isaac Julien are presented in the museum’s Jewel Boxes and Experimental Gallery, working in conversation with this exhibition.