Teenie Harris Photographs: In Their Own Voice

July 29. 2017–January 21, 2018

A Community of Voices

View of graffiti on the side of a brick building. The words Stop Dope the Pusher is your Enemy can be seen  

Teenie Harris Photographs: In Their Own Voice brings together two tremendous resources: the images of studio photographer and photojournalist Charles "Teenie" Harris, and the voices of the citizens that he chronicled. In a partnership between Carnegie Museum of Art and Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, this rich collection of image and voice is presented for the benefit of audiences both stateside and abroad. Collected by Dr. Benjamin Houston of Newcastle University, guest curator of this exhibition, these oral histories voice the concerns, challenges, and character of Pittsburgh's Mrican American community, and offer unique insights on the black urban experience in America.

To mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. receiving an honorary doctorate from Newcastle University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne has launched a yearlong commemoration. The moving words that underscored King's passionate acceptance speech are particularly appreciated in that city. Likewise, we honor the fervent voices of Pittsburgh's civil rights leaders, educators, historians, and citizens through their firsthand knowledge of past events. This is especially pertinent to the informed subjects who have since passed away, and whose voices cannot otherwise be heard.

For more than four decades, Harris’s photographs captured the joy, beauty, and heartache of black Pittsburgh in unprecedented fashion. Accompanied by testimonies from the people often seen in his images, In Their Own Voice offers a window into a critical moment in our shared history as a nation. Take a look, have a listen, and add your own voice to the conversation by sharing your response to the issues addressed in this exhibition.

Charlene Foggie-Barnett, Teenie Harris Archive Specialist, Carnegie Museum of Art

Charles “Teenie” Harris (1908–1998) photographed Pittsburgh’s African American community from ca. 1935 to ca. 1975. His archive of nearly 80,000 images is one of the most detailed and intimate records of the black urban experience known today. Purchased by Carnegie Museum of Art in 2001, the Teenie Harris Archive was established to preserve Harris’s important photographic work for future generations. For more information, visit teenie.cmoa.org. You can also read essays inspired by the social, cultural, and political content of Harris’s photographs at storyboard.cmoa.org.