Telfair Museums’ latest photography exhibit captures every beautifully awkward ounce of America’s pre-adulthood

From wonder and imagination to fear, embarrassment and uncertainty, the Telfair Museums exhibition, “Youthful Adventures: Growing up in Photography”, offers visitors an undeniably relatable view of themselves. .

Each of the photographs compiled for “Youthful Adventures” captures an essential element of American youth or childhood, from 1940s streetscapes to the front lines of the civil rights movement, to the digital revolution and beyond. , leaving visitors of all ages with a lively sense of nostalgia.

“I think it’s important to show a wide variety of photography for this exhibition,” said Erin Dunn, Telfair’s associate curator of modern and contemporary art.

“Childhood is such a universal experience and so these photos capture all sorts of different societal moments across the country in so many different time periods, so I think it absolutely needed the representation of a large group of photographers.”

The exhibition is comprised of a collection of over forty photographs by over 25 photographers ranging from internationally acclaimed names like Helen Levitt, Gordon Parks and Sheila Pree-Bright, to recent Savannah College of Art and Design graduate Eva Verbeeck .

“We have funny and humorous images that will make people smile, but we also show the rituals and traditions that we are kind of forced to go through as kids,” Dunn said.

“That’s how we find out who we are. Self-expression and self-identity are important themes for growing and flourishing.

The exhibit also features many photos of children in more serious roles, such as acting at the forefront of change.

“Civil rights and activism is also an important concept in this exhibit,” Dunn added. “Children always have to look to their future and figure out what they want their future to look like. I think it was especially important to also include photographers like Gordon Parks in this exhibit, because often when we see civil rights photographs they’re taken in black and white, so we think of it as something that happened in another era when in reality it is in our very recent past.

The museum even sought to include the voices of Savannah’s current youth in the exhibit through their work with Deep Center, a local nonprofit dedicated to “empowering Savannah’s youth to thrive as as learners, community leaders and agents of change through creative writing”. , cultural production and art.

Through this collaboration, public school students in Savannah-Chatham County were invited to respond to the works in the exhibit by writing short responses or poems, which can be viewed in written form or as an oral presentation on a screen just outside the exhibit, or by scanning a mobile QR code or visiting the museums website.

“Each work has an engaging narrative behind it,” Dunn said.

“I hope that’s what viewers can take away from the exhibition, as well as find a work or an artist that speaks to them specifically.”


What: Youth Adventures: Growing Up in Photography

When: Now until April 2021

Where: Jepsen Center, 207 W York St.

Cost: Free for members, daily passes vary


Tracey L. Sweeney