Emerson Gallery

History of Exhibitions


The Music Stand: Jazz as a Unifying Social Force

January 27 - April 10, 2005

Unknown Photographer
Silver gelatin print, 8 x 10 in.
Collection of Duncan Schiedt

Social change in America has often progressed slowly and at great cost. Music, and jazz in particular, have often led the way in breaking down racial, gender, economic, and age barriers. Before government intervention attempted to legislate civil rights and attitudes, jazz provided a stage where the best of the human spirit could thrive. The musicians' desire to play with the finest talent made considerations of supposed differences between musicians a non-issue. As the music became part of popular culture, this feeling spread to positively affect the audience and the venues where people went to dance and listen. It did not happen overnight and it is still a work in progress, buth the concept that skill and personality take precedence over societal hang-ups was and continues to be modeled in jazz.

This exhibition focuses on the role of jazz in America and the positive social movement it has inspired. Images from select photographers will capture the interaction and camaraderie taking place on and off the stage, with musicians and their fans. The photographs by the late bassist Milt Hinton will play a prominent role in the exhibition as will images by Lee Tanner and Herman Leonard. Trumpeter Joe Wilder, also an avid photographer, and AEI's featured music artist, will contribute his personal work as well.The exhibition will include additional images gathered from personal collections of jazz enthusiasts and video clips from the Hamilton College Jazz Archive. These selections are drawn from videotaped interviews conducted with 250 jazz personalities from across the country. These artists speak with passion, conviction and humor about the trials and triumphs they experienced on the bandstand and on the road.

This exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the Jazz Archive, the Emerson Gallery and the Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society and Culture at Hamilton College and will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue.