The Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Harvard University, recently announced the selection of the 2021 Robert Gardner Fellow in Photography. Following an international search, the Gardner Fellowship committee awarded the fellowship to photographer Wendel White. The fellowship provides a $50,000 stipend to begin or complete a proposed project followed by the publication of a book.
Wendel White, Distinguished Professor of Art & American Studies at Stockton University, New Jersey, will use the fellowship to work on “Manifest: Thirteen Colonies,” an ongoing photographic project of African American material culture housed in both public and private collections throughout New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
The subjects of White’s photography are rare, singular objects, as well as more quotidian material. He photographs diaries, documents, musical instruments, doors, hair, photographs, souvenirs, and other artifacts. As White explains, “The ability of objects to transcend lives, centuries, and millennia suggests a remarkable mechanism for folding time, bringing the past and the present into a shared space that is uniquely suited to artistic exploration. These artifacts are the forensic evidence of Black life and events in the United States.”
He describes himself as delving into archives in order to “excavate black history through material culture.” His photographs are “a response to the collective physical remnants of the American concept and representation of race.”