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Underground Railroad photo exhibit to visit UA–PTC Windgate Gallery

Underground Railroad photo exhibit to visit UA–PTC Windgate Gallery

January 19, 2022

After escaping under cover of darkness, an estimated 100,000 slaves traveled roughly twenty miles each night on an arduous, dangerous journey in search of freedom. They moved in constant fear of being killed or recaptured and returned. Occasionally, they were guided from one secret, safe location to the next by an ever-changing, clandestine group known as the Underground Railroad.

Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad, a photographic exhibit by Jeanine Michna-Bales, will be on display at UA – Pulaski Tech’s Windgate Gallery Jan. 31 – March 16, 2022, at The Center for Humanities and Arts (CHARTS) at University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College, 3000 W. Scenic Drive, in North Little Rock, Ark. Admission is free of charge.

Photographer Jeanine Michna-Bales spent more than a decade meticulously researching “fugitive” slaves and the ways they escaped to freedom. While the unnumbered routes of the Underground Railroad encompassed countless square miles, the path Michna-Bales documented encompasses roughly 2,000 miles and is based off of actual sites, cities, and places that freedom-seekers passed through during their journey.

Many consider the Underground Railroad to be the first great freedom movement in the Americas and the first time when people of different races and faiths worked together in harmony for freedom and justice between 1830 and the end of the Civil War in 1865.

Whether they were slaves trying to escape or free blacks and whites trying to help, both sides risked everything for the cause of freedom. From the cotton plantations south of Natchitoches, Louisiana, all the way north to the Canadian border, this series of photographs by Michna-Bales helps us imagine what the long road to freedom may have looked like as seen through the eyes of one of those who made this epic journey.

While many books have been written on the subject, there is very little visual documentation of the Underground Railroad because of its secretive nature. Today, as America becomes more and more diverse, Michna-Bales believes that an understanding of the experience—and those who lived through it—is more relevant than ever.

The Underground Railroad united people from different races, genders, social levels, religions, and regions in a common and worthwhile cause. Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad encourages visitors to learn more, ask questions, and open a dialogue on the subject, and in the end, provide a better understanding of our origins.

This exhibition features beautifully dramatic color photographs, ephemera, and narratives that together tell the story of the Underground Railroad. The author has also published a book, Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad through Princeton Architectural Press that combines eighty-two original photographs and text with a diverse sampling of related ephemera. For more information and to purchase, visit www.jmbalesphotography.com/through-darkness-to-light-photographs-along-the-underground-railroad.

For more information, contact Kurt Leftwich, CHARTS Programming and Box Office Coordinator at [email protected] or (501) 812-2831.

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