At a time when nearly everyone in Arkansas is thinking pretty seriously about their own mortality in relationship to others, here comes “Humankind,” a free exhibition of 69 photographs at the Argenta Branch Library on life and death. Styled after a 1955 exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, the exhibit ushers in the library’s reopening after a pandemic hiatus, and features works from members of the Blue-Eyed Knocker Photo Club: Adams Pryor, Adrienne Taylor, Brandon Markin, Casey Sanders, Cindy Adams,Darrell Adams, Gail Arnold, James Allen, Jon Hodges, Lily Ryall, Nancy Nolan, Rachel Worthen, Rita Henry, Susan Crisp, Vince Griffin and the group’s mentor, New York photographer Matt Weber, along with writings of three Arkansas-related creative writers John Gibson, Penny Colglazier and Susan Munden Allen.
In it, “a woman shows her large spider tattoo next to her baby bump; a small boy lounging on the back of a milk cow; a girl in a white gown and graduation hat stands beneath a George Floyd graffiti painting; and a child plays in a park as distant smoke rises from the twin towers on 9/11.”
From a press release:
Rita Henry, the group’s coordinator, explains, “The photographs, from
Arkansas to Australia, are from people’s personal experiences, such as
birthday parties, weddings, and funerals. The photographers searched for
their best work to show things that are individual yet universal. The
photographs range from the big backdrop of the Arkansas State Fair or the
Piazza Navona in Rome to a small spaces such as a home kitchen or backyard
The original 1955 MOMA “Family of Man” helped to shape what photography is
today. The show featured 503 images from 69 different countries. Ten
million people saw the exhibition. Some of the photographers are now
considered the greatest of all time, including Henri Cartier-Bresson,
Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams and Gordon Parks. The exhibition catalogue
inspired and informed the “Humankind” photographers. Some of them knew the
book from their past photographic education and others found the book while
browsing the library.
Like the “Family of Man,” the pieces in “Humankind” span several decades,
with the majority of the images produced from black and white film
developed in a darkroom, the same process used for the 1955 photographs.
To complement these, there are color digital images using 2021 technology.
Like the original exhibition, “Humankind” includes a trio of professional
writers who offer their thoughts on the themes expressed in the