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Photographic Memory

  • Slought 4017 Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA, 19104 United States (map)

Slought and Penn School of Social Policy & Practice are pleased to announce Photographic Memory, an exhibition of archival imagery by Maurice Sorrell (1914-1998), the first Black member of the White House Photographers Association, on display at Slought from June 21, 2018 to July 21, 2018. An opening reception will take place on Thursday, June 21, 2018 from 6-9pm, with a conversation featuring curator Stephanie Renée and Daryl DeBrest and Mike D of Reelblack at 7pm.

"I rarely remember seeing my Uncle Maurice without his camera in tow," Renée recalls, "though it would be years before I understood the legacy of his photography and what he endured to be able to ply his craft." Maurice Sorrell was the definition of a guru, a self-taught master, whose ardent desire to engage in photographic storytelling and cultural preservation propelled him to develop the skills that enabled him to do just that. His success was a combination of ability and providence. He sought validation at a time when America was struggling with its Jim Crow legacy, wanting to appear progressive to the rest of the world after news cameras had exposed the nation's racial disharmony and shame. Sorrell's lens was fixed on this emerging Black America: its suffering and pride, castigation and resilience. Today, 20 years after his passing, it seems fitting to reexamine his archival history, in the context of an America that has yet to resolve its innate disdain for Black lives.

Within communities of color, the act of cataloguing family events and other acts of historic significance can be a sacred practice. Unearthing these photos, scrapbooks, audio and video recordings from a personal collection to make them available in the public realm is a necessary exercise, yet many individuals are distrustful of the organizations that are seeking to present these collections to a larger audience. As part of the exhibition, Stephanie Renée will engage some of Philadelphia's leading archivists in conversations around both the securing and preservation of our collective cultural knowledge, including issues of legal rights, ownership, royalties and physical conservation.

*This exhibition is free and open to the public

*For more information, please visit:

Earlier Event: June 21
POM's Youth Artist Exhibit