Celebrate Richard Samuel Roberts with panel discussion and book signing

Event commemorates new edition of A True Likeness: The Black South of Richard Samuel Roberts 1920-1936

Columbia, S.C. – The Columbia Museum of Art with USC Press announces CelebratingA True Likeness: The Black South of Richard Samuel Roberts 1920-1936 – New Edition, a panel discussion on the extraordinary photography of Columbia’s own Richard Samuel Roberts and the importance of his work in South Carolina’s history, on Saturday, July 13, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. A book signing will follow the panel discussion.

Richard Samuel Roberts (American, 1880 – 1936)
Unidentified Child, 1920s
Gelatin silver print, posthumously printed from the original glass plate negative Gift of Gerald E. Roberts, Beverly Roberts, Cornelius C. Roberts and Wilhelmina R. Wynn On view in CMA Collection Gallery 5 (Art and Identity)

Roberts (1880 – 1936) was a self-taught photographer who established a portrait studio on Washington Street in the heart of the Columbia’s Black commercial district. He was one of the few major African American commercial photographers working in the region during the first half of the 20th century. As a result of the more than 3,000 negatives recovered in 1977 from a crawl space under the Roberts home, there is a rich visual chronicle of this vibrant cross section of Columbia residents.

Thomas L. Johnson and Phillip C. Dunn received a 1987 Lillian Smith Book Award for their work on A True Likeness: The Black South of Richard Samuel Roberts 1920-1936. This new edition of A True Likeness features a foreword by Elaine Nichols, the supervisory curator of culture at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., as well as a new afterword by Johnson.

 “Richard Roberts was more than a portrait photographer. He was an artist who painted his subjects with light,” says Dunn. “His portraits dignified and commemorated the accomplishments of African Americans as they gained entry into America's middle class. Even more importantly, however, his photographs examined this struggle in a way that elevated and celebrated the effort and sacrifice that were required of the Black community to succeed. Other Black photographers from this period like James Van Der Zee, Augustus Polk or Addison Scurlock may be better known, but none of them were better photographic artists than Richard Roberts.”

Panelists include Dunn, Johnson, University of South Carolina Associate Professor Bobby Donaldson, and Historic Columbia’s Research and Archives Manager Katharine Allen. Facilitated by CMA Director of Education and Engagement Jackie Adams.

Free with membership or admission. Books for sale at the CMA Shop on day of event.

For more information, visit columbiamuseum.org.

About the CMA
The Columbia Museum of Art is a charitable nonprofit organization dedicated to lifelong learning and community enrichment for all. Located in the heart of downtown Columbia, S.C., the CMA ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and creative educational programs. At the heart of the CMA and its programs is its collection, which encompasses 7,000 works and spans 5,000 years of art history. Established in 1950, the CMA now welcomes more than 150,000 visitors annually and is a catalyst for community creativity and education, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds. It is the recipient of a National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a National Art Education Association award for its contributions to arts education, a National Park Foundation Award, and two Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Awards for the Arts for outstanding contributions to the arts in South Carolina. In order to serve even more audiences, the CMA recently underwent a transformation. Funded by a successful capital campaign, the two-year renovation project garnered new collection galleries with a progressive thematic layout, new studios for artmaking, cutting-edge program and event spaces, an entrance on Main Street, and a revamped CMA shop. Overall, more than 20,000 square feet of functional space were added to the building’s existing footprint.To learn more, visit www.columbiamuseum.org.

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