Traveling Exhibitions

Looking Back at Gee's Bend: The Photographs of John Reese

Gee's Bend BaptismLooking Back at Gee’s Bend: The Photographs of John Reese is a photographic record of the rural community of Gee’s Bend, situated in Alabama’s “Black Belt” in a deep bend of the Alabama River. The river and unmaneuverable roads served as a barriers between Gee’s Bend and other more populous sections of the region until the late 1960s when roads in and out of the community were paved. For this reason, life in Gee’s Bend remained relatively free of modern outside influences until then.

John Reese photographed the residents of Gee’s Bend in the late 1970s and early 80s, and these poignant images reveal the lives of its people at work, at church, at play, and at home in the agricultural setting of Gee’s Bend as it was in 1980. Most of the families who lived in Gee’s Bend at the time were decendants of slaves who remained in the region as tenant-farmers following emancipation. This fact, coupled with the humanist perspective of John Reese’s lens, makes this exhibition both emotionally stirring and historically important. 39 16 x 20 frames, 7 20 x 24 frames (including title and text panels)

About the Exhibition

This exhibition can be reduced to fewer frames or panels without harming its integrity.

Exhibition History

Birmingham Public Library, May-June 1994
DuSadle Museum of African American History (Chicago), January-March 1995
The Sloan Museum (Flint, Michigan), January-March 1996
St. Joseph Historical Foundation (Durham, North Carolina), August-September 1996
Photographic Gallery, Middle Tennessee State University (Murfreesboro), October-December 1996
Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History (Virginia), January-February 1997
South Arkansas Arts Center (El Dorado), May-July 1997
Tulsa Junior College (Tulsa),September-November 1997
Museum of Arts and Sciences (Macon, Georgia), March-May 1998
Butler Institute of American Art (Youngstown, Ohio), March-June 1999
Barton County Community College (Great Bend, Kansas), January-February 2000
Afro-American Cultural Center (Charlotte), January-March 2001
Birmingham Public Library, January-February 2003
Old Alabama Town (Montgomery), April-June 2003
Samford University (Birmingham), April-September 2004

Optional Program

Examining the Gee’s Bend Interviews (program by Kelsey Scouten Bates, Assistant Archivist, Birmingham Public Library)

Below is a selection of photographs from the exhibition.  

398.7.26SenCitznLunchLottieMoon-JanePettway.tif 398.8.11RevBennettAndGrandson.tif 398.9.36TheBaptizedAndTheirSponsors.tif
398.7.85StudentsAtPlay.tif 398.8.62ReubenPettway.tif 398.8.5MaggieBennett.tif
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