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TCNJ Art Gallery Presents Iconic Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement

From January 28 through March 1, 2015, TCNJ’s Art Gallery is presenting, Danny Lyon: Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement. The exhibition includes 50 photographs by renowned photographer and filmmaker Danny Lyon, whose 1960s photographs of the Civil Rights movement are considered to be some of the defining images of the era.

Born in Brooklyn in 1942, Lyon became a leader of post-War documentary photography and film and helped create a mode of photojournalism in which the picture-maker is deeply and personally embedded in his subject matter. A self-taught photographer and a graduate of the University of Chicago, Lyon began his photographic career in the early 1960s as the first staff photographer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a national group of college students that played a major role in Civil Rights sit-ins, freedom rides, and the 1963 March on Washington. From 1962 to 1964, Lyon traveled the South and Mid-Atlantic regions documenting the Civil Rights Movement. His photographs were published in The Movement, a documentary book about the Southern Civil Rights Movement, and later in Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement, Lyon’s own memoir of his years working for the SNCC.

The exhibition in TCNJ’s Art Gallery, which is presented as part of TCNJ’s campus wide exploration of the theme of “Justice” and in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act, includes some of Lyon’s most powerful images. Just as Lyon immersed himself in his subject matter, this exhibition of his historic photographs allows visitors an opportunity to engage with this vitally important period of American history. As U. S. Congressman John Lewis has commented regarding Lyon’s photography, “This young white New Yorker came South with a camera and a keen eye for history. And he used these simple, elegant gifts to capture the story of one of the most inspiring periods in America’s twentieth century.”

Lyon has had one-person exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Menil Collection in Houston. The exhibition Danny Lyon: Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement is being loaned to TCNJ by Art2Art Circulating Exhibitions, a non-profit traveling exhibition organization, and is presented courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York.

In conjunction with the exhibition, TCNJ’s Department of Communications Studies will present Lyon’s 1975 film Los Niños Abandonados on February 11, at 10:00 in the Kendall Hall Screening Room. Lyon’s documentary about homeless children in Columbia has been acclaimed as “one of the great cinema-vérité documentaries.”