Working In the Seams: An Initial Photographic View into the African-American Coal Culture of Southern Illinois, an exhibition comprised of original photographs and text that discusses the history of Black coal miners in Southern Illinois will be on exhibit in the Visual Arts Gallery April 11-May 9, 2008 with a public reception on Wednesday, April 16, from 6-8 p.m.
Working in several historic African-American coal mining neighborhoods, communities, and towns, the photographers have been attempting to meet with as many contributors to this mining culture as possible. Through these portraits the viewers are able to see into the lives of dozens of individuals across southern Illinois who either worked in the coal industry, or whose brothers, husbands, fathers, or uncles did. Most often, the subjects are part of a long lineage of miners.
"Through these portraits, viewers will be able to see the faces and glimpse into the lives of dozens of African-Americans across Southern Illinois who either worked in the coal industry, or whose brothers, husbands, fathers or uncles did. Their faces provide a graphic link across what has been a largely uncharted history."
The project was funded by a major grant from the Illinois Humanities Council and by the Coal Research Center at Southern Illinois University