Slavery and the Making of AmericaPicture of slave women cultivating a village garden in Central Africa, Courtesy of the University of Virginia Library
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Rationale for the exhibit:

Slavery and the Making of America: History, Documentation and the Unvarnished Truth?
In this exhibition, you will find a number of artifacts from the era of slavery in America, ranging from 1830s - 1880s. Many of these artifacts originally appeared in print in newspapers, magazines and engravings (prints). By analyzing these works you will be engaged in a critical analysis of the media itself.

For each image the Young Curators were asked:
  • Who was the original audience this piece was intended for?

  • Do you think that the artifact was intended to be propaganda or unbiased information?

  • What was the message? Who benefits?

  • What are the pre-conceived notions that people bring to the viewing of "facts" that influence what they perceive?

  • Does the meaning of an artifact change over time?

  • What is fact and what is, in actuality, fiction created to sway your point of view?

  • Was the media of the 1800s any more or less biased than the media of today?
These images were first shown "blind," with no titles or source identification, to the students. We ask that you, the viewer, try to do the same so you will have a chance to think about it and form an idea of what the image is telling you. Each Young Curators initial “blind” response as well as the their commentary of media then and now accompany each image. You will find that in some cases, the meaning or intent will have been obvious. In others, it will have been ambiguous, raising important questions, for example, how does ones preconceptions affect the way information is interpreted?

This exhibition asks the viewer to think critically about the nature of documentary evidence and to question his or her own evaluation of its veracity.

Written and produced by the 8th Grade Young Curators of Renaissance Middle School, Montclair, New Jersey, Class of 2005, in conjunction with the Montclair Art Museum

Under the instruction of Joyce Korotkin, Art Teacher, Renaissance School and Gary Schneider, Director of Education at Montclair Art Museum
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