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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Media Contact

Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications
503/777-7574
beth.sorensen@reed.edu


"Black Panthers 1968: Photographs by Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones" opens January 4 at Reed College

PORTLAND, OR (November 23, 2004) - Extraordinary photos of one of the most turbulent times in recent American history are on view in the Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones photographic essay "Black Panthers 1968," on view at Reed College's Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery from January 4 through February 20, 2005.

The exhibition is free and open to the public and coincides with Reed College's celebration of Black History Month. For information and hours, please visit http://web.reed.edu/gallery or call the gallery information line at 503/777-7790.

Programming: Pirkle Jones will be giving a short slide lecture and talk at 6:30 p.m. on February 9, 2005, at Reed College, on campus location to be determined. There will be a special reception outside the Cooley Gallery following the Jones talk, with the gallery open late that evening for viewing the exhibition.

Cooley Gallery director Stephanie Snyder calls Pirkle Jones and Ruth-Marion Baruch Jones's photographs "sensitive, aesthetically outstanding documentary photography."

From July to October of 1968, noted California photographers Baruch and Jones were invited by Eldridge Cleaver to chronicle the Black Panther movement in and around Oakland, California, the headquarters of the organization. The resulting photographs were exhibited at the de Young Museum in San Francisco in the 1968 show "A Photographic Essay on the Black Panthers."

This exhibition, organized by the Berkeley Art Museum at the University of California at Berkeley, brings together 45 photographs from the original exhibition. Their hope was to expose the public to the Panthers as they saw them - symbols of pride and strength.

The work of Baruch and Jones stands in radical contrast to mass media images of the time depicting the Panthers as thugs, criminals, or dangerous subversives. In October 1966 leaders of the Black Panther movement created a "Ten Point Platform and Program" for the new organization, demanding as its first point "power to determine the destiny of our black community." They added long-standing black aspirations for housing, education, employment opportunities, and an end to police brutality and murder. Their program called for blacks to be tried by juries of their peers, for black prisoners to be released because none had received fair trials, and concluded with a quotation from the Declaration of Independence, asserting the right to revolution. In 1968, FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover had vilified the Black Panthers as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States."

The two Bay Area photographers -- Baruch, a European-born Jew who faced discrimination in America, and Jones, a white man from Louisiana whose family had witnessed lynchings -- set out to reveal "the feeling of the people" and to share their images with the public through a major exhibition.

The Baruch and Jones images reflect the dignity and humanity that animated the young revolutionaries, and also suggest universal themes of family, commitment, and hope for the future.

Snyder says "This exhibition does not seek to position the Panthers historically, or to draw conclusions about the appropriateness of their positions and actions. However, by bringing this work to Reed, we are certainly drawing attention to issues of social justice, race, poverty, education, and basic human rights.

She suggests that no one would "disagree that the inequalities of our society have not been resolved since 1967, when the Panthers were founded. Social and political concerns have been the focus of artistic practice for hundreds of years, and this work should be seen in that context."

Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones
Baruch and Jones met as photography students and were married in 1949 at the Yosemite home of Ansel Adams. They were together until Baruch's death in 1997. Their work has been exhibited in museums around the country including the Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the International Museum of Photography in Rochester, New York; and the Smithsonian Institution.  

Both were associated with the Peace and Freedom Party, and through that connection learned of the Panthers' program. "Slowly we began to comprehend how severely maligned they were by all the communications media," Baruch later wrote. "The urge to correct this injustice grew rapidly within me."

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Admission to the Cooley Gallery and its exhibitions is always free and open to the public. For information and hours, please visit http://web.reed.edu/gallery or call the gallery information line at 503/777-7790.

For more information or to receive images from the exhibition, please contact Beth Sorensen, office of communications, at 503/777-7574 or at beth.sorensen@reed.edu .

Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, is an undergraduate institution of the liberal arts and sciences dedicated to sustaining the highest intellectual standards in the country. With an enrollment of about 1,360 students, Reed ranks third in the undergraduate origins of Ph.D.s in the United States and second in the number of Rhodes Scholars from a liberal arts college (31 since 1915). For more information, visit web.reed.edu .