Charles "Teenie" Harris
April 11 – June 13, 2003
As a photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the pre-eminent black news weeklies in America, Charles “Teenie” Harris traveled the alleys, workplaces, nightclubs and ballparks of Pittsburgh’s Hill District, chronicling every day life in the African-American community through the complicated era of desegregation and again into the time of re-segregation. Eighty-two of his images, captured over more than 40 years, have been brought together in a vibrant exhibition entitled “Spirit of a Community: The Photographs of Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris”.
Harris’ images are significant in that they create a historically and sociologically accurate record of African-American history from 1931 to 1971. Celebratory events and every day occurrences, politics, sports, entertainment, church, home and community all figure prominently in the artists images and shed light on the lives and culture of African American’s in Pittsburgh. Harris’ photographs show the camaraderie, friendship and spirit of a proud and driven community that celebrated life in spite of the barriers of racism – a story not told in the mainstream press.
The “Spirit of a Community” exhibit represents a small selection of the more than 80,000 photos taken by Harris during his lifetime. Originally controlled by a private dealer, access to the images had been severely restricted until a court decision returned the negatives to Harris’ estate. In 2001, Harris’ heirs granted permission to curators at the Westmoreland Museum of Art in Greensburg, PA to assemble an exhibition of the late photographers work. The Griffin Museum is only the third venue in the country to host the exhibit.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Griffin Museum is presenting two special programs. An Evening with Charles Harris, son of Charles “Teenie” Harris will be held on Thursday, May 1, at 7:00 p.m. On Thursday, May 15, also at 7:00 p.m. the Museum will host a screening of the documentary film “One Shot: The Life and Work of Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris”, by guest curators and filmmakers Henry Simonds and Kenny Love. Admission to each program is $13, $10 for Museum members.
Spirit of a Community: The Photographs of Charles “Teenie” Harris is organized and toured by Westmoreland Museum of Art, Greenberg, PA.
PHOTOGRAPHS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST