Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Written by: Langston Hughes
Photographs by: Charles R. Smith Jr.
"Some 86 years after its original publication, Langston Hughes’ poem “My People” finds celebratory interpretation in Charles R. Smith Jr.’s elegant sepia photography. Echoing the graceful simplicity of Hughes’ verses, Smith’s pictures capture African American faces of every size, shape, age, and hue, their countenances shining out from fields of glossy black.
The expressions are as varied and captivating as the subjects, from crying babies to radiant children and adults. The pages outnumber the words, 40 to 33, allowing the text, printed in gold, to sweep across the darkness with the titular refrain. In an endnote, Smith shares the questions he asked himself as he began his photographic interpretation, noting Hughes’ intent “to celebrate the pride he had for his black brothers and sisters.” In the aspects that he has captured, and their artful arrangement across the page, he does just that."