February 18 - May 6, 2017
Artist reception and book signing:
Saturday, February 18, 2017 5-8 PM
From a cotton plantation just south of Natchitoches, Louisiana, all the way north to Canada, Jeanine Michna-Bales has created a photographic journey of a slave's long road to freedom, circa 1840.
Under the cover of darkness, an estimated 100,000 slaves traveled north to freedom in the decades prior to the Civil War. They had little knowledge of the trails that lead to their liberty. To find north was to look for moss growing on the north side of trees or by observing the North Star located by the Big Dipper.
Michna-Bales takes you on a dark lit passage through demanding terrains and ominous river crossings in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, and finally Ontario, Canada. The threatening rivers crossed included the Mississippi, Tennessee and the Ohio River (The River Jordan).
Michna-Bales decade long project uncovered roughly 1,400 miles, revealing actual sites, cities and places that freedom-seekers passed through. Homes of Abolitionists William Beard, Joshua Eliason Jr., and Reverend Guy Beckley gave refuge, and are included in her photographic essay.
The photographs offer an eerie, visceral journey that immerses you in the night's grasp. The images illustrate the daunting task of traveling roughly 20 miles each night.
Jeanine Michna-Bales latest projects have been researching and photographing long-forgotten nuclear fallout shelters and invisible epicenters of environmental turmoil from fracking. She recently won the PhotoNola Portfolio Review Prize in 2015, which resulted in a solo exhibition in New Orleans this fall. She was awarded the 2016 Documentarian of the American South Collection Award from the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University. Her photographs have been published in many publications including Harper's, Transition, Spot and Geo Histoire. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Center for Documentary Arts at Duke University.
Through Darkness to Light is also a traveling exhibition sponsored by
Mid-America Arts Alliance through Exhibits USA, exhibiting from 2017 - 2022.
Book: Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad, Published by Princeton Architectural Press. Release date: February 7, 2017. Forward by Andrew. J. Young, and essays by Fergus M. Bordewich, Robert F. Darden, and Eric R. Jackson.
For press images: luisa[at]pdnbgallery[.]com
For event information: missy[at]pdnbgallery[.]com
Click to preview exhibition