Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom

Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

Unknown photographer (likely Dennis Bourdon, Norman Photographic Company), Joseph Henry Douglass and Frederick Douglass, 1894. Cabinet card photograph. Collection of Walter and Linda Evans.

October 3, 2019
Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom
October 3, 2019–January 5, 2020
SCAD Musuem of Art
601 Turner Boulevard
Savannah, GA 31401
United States
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The Savannah College of Art and Design is proud to present the Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom group exhibition at the SCAD Museum of Art. This timely exhibition explores the life and legacy of the preeminent social reformer, abolitionist, and statesman and is centered on the Frederick Douglass Family Archive from the collection of Walter and Linda Evans. The exhibition is curated by Humberto Moro, curator of SCAD exhibitions; Ben Tollefson, assistant curator of SCAD exhibitions; Ariella Wolens, assistant curator of SCAD exhibitions; Storm Janse Van Rensburg, former head curator of SCAD exhibitions and Celeste-Marie Bernier, professor of black studies and personal chair in English literature at the University of Edinburgh.

Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom showcases an extraordinary grouping of primary documents which offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn first-hand about this legendary figure in the history of the United States. Through letters, family scrapbooks, photographs, and other archival material, viewers will discover rarely-known facts about Douglass’ family and personal history, something the abolitionist rarely wrote about in his autobiographies. This also marks the last time these Frederick Douglass archives will be shown in Dr. Evans lifetime.   

“With ​Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom​, the SCAD Museum of Art celebrates the donation of prominent works of art from the collection of Dr. Walter O. Evans and Linda Evansto SCAD. Their donation forms the foundation of the new exhibition opening October 3rd. Come see work from a dazzling array of featured artists, from Raphaël Barontini to Isaac Julien to SCAD’s own award-winning Le’Andra LeSeur (B.F.A. photography, 2014),” states SCAD president and founder Paula Wallace. 

The historic register on display in the Walter O. Evans gallery will be in conversation with modern and contemporary works by renowned artists, including Jacob Lawrence, Betye Saar Scott Covert, Omar Victor Diop, Latoya Ruby Frazier, Lyle Ashton Harris, Stephen Hayers, Lubaina Himid, Titus Kaphar, Meleko Mokgossi, Mathat Rosler, James Van Der Zee, Barbara Walker, Gillian Wearing, Wilmer Wilson IV, and Charles White. New commissions by Onyedika Chuke, TR Ericsson, Glyneisha Johnson, Le’Andra LeSeur (SCAD BFA, photography, 2014), and Charles Edward Williams (SCAD BFA, advertising, 2006) will also be on display. 

The Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom exhibition and programming highlights the university’s ongoing mission to showcase emerging and established African American artists. Since opening in 2011, SCAD Museum of Art has exhibited over twenty artists dynamic work including Fred Wilson, Hank Willis Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, Jacob Lawrence, Lorraine O’Grady, Radcliffe Bailey, Andre 3000, Toyin Ojih Odutola, and Stephen Burrows, among others. The museum is housed in an 1853 brick structure that was once a railway depot for the Central of Georgia Railway. This National Historic Landmark is the only surviving antebellum railroad complex in the US.  

In addition to the Frederick Douglass: Embers of Freedom, two other exhibitions on display at the museum are also in conversation with Frederick Douglass’ legacy, including Raphael Barontini’s The Golden March and Issac Julien’s Frederick Douglass: Lessons of the Hour

Known for his dynamic installations, subverting visual tropes and iconographies, Raphaël Barontini’s first museum exhibition in the USA comprises two parts: the first is a site-specific installation of new work for the iconic Jewel Boxes lining the facade of the museum. The second is a performance in collaboration with a local high school marching band. Barontini approached the commission as a fractional narrative and tribute to the life and work of Frederick Douglass. Each of the four Jewel Boxes will be a poetic reflection on Douglass’ life history, in the form of large-scale textile installations based on visual material from the Douglass Family archives. Additional funding for this project is provided by Étant donnés Contemporary Art, a program of the French American Cultural Exchange (FACE) Foundation. 

Lessons of the Hour is a poetic meditation on the life and times of Frederick Douglass by the master of the moving image, Turner Prize-nominated Isaac Julien. The new iteration of the work to be debuted at the Experimental Gallery, is a three-screen, immersive film installation which proposes a contemplative journey into Douglass’ zeitgeist and its relationship to contemporaneity. The film includes excerpts of Douglass’ most arresting speeches and allusions to his private and public milieus. Some speeches included “Lessons of the Hour,” “What to the Slave Is the 4th of July?” and “Lecture on Pictures,” the latter a text that connects picture-making and photography to Douglass’ vision of how technology can influence human relations. In the film, the character of Douglass interacts with other cultural icons of his time. Through extensive use of Frederick Douglass’ timely words Julien gives expression to the spirit at the time of Douglass’ era, his legacy, and ways in which his story may be viewed today.

All of the SCAD Museum of Art’s fall 2019 exhibitions and programming highlight many of the university’s top ranked degree programs including photography, performing arts, film and television, fibers, painting, sculpture, and architecture.   

For more information on the SCAD Museum of Art exhibitions and programming visit

About SCAD Museum of Art
The SCAD Museum of Art is a premier contemporary art museum that features emerging and established international artists through commissioned works and rotating exhibitions; engages local communities with special initiatives of an international scope; and serves as a resource for SCAD students and alumni during their academic careers and beyond.  

The museum has presented exhibitions by artists including AES+F, Jane Alexander, Radcliffe Bailey, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Subodh Gupta, Alfredo Jaar, Sigalit Landau, Liza Lou, Elaine Mayes, Lorraine O’Grady, Ebony G. Patterson, Robin Rhode, Bill Viola, Carrie Mae Weems, Kehinde Wiley and Fred Wilson, as well as site-specific installations by Daniel Arsham, Kendall Buster, Jose Dávila, Michael Joo, Odili Donald Odita and others. The museum’s permanent collection includes the Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art, the Modern and Contemporary Art Collection, the Earle W. Newton Collection of British and American Art, the 19th-and 20th-century Photography Collection and the SCAD Costume Collection.  

An award-winning, architectural icon, the museum incorporates the oldest surviving antebellum railroad depot in the U.S. into its striking design. Nestled in the heart of Savannah’s vibrant historic downtown district, the museum attracts visitors from around the globe. It has been recognized by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the Congress for the New Urbanism, the International Interior Design Association and the Historic Savannah Foundation and received the American Institute of Architects Honor Award for Architecture, a pinnacle achievement.   

About SCAD: The University for Creative Careers 
The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private, nonprofit, accredited university offering more than 100 academic degree programs in more than 40 majors across its locations in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia; Hong Kong; Lacoste, France; and online via SCAD eLearning. SCAD enrolls more than 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 115 countries. The innovative SCAD curriculum is enhanced by advanced, professional-level technology, equipment, and learning resources, as well as opportunities for internships, professional certifications and collaborative projects with corporate partners.  

In 2017, the prestigious Red Dot Design Rankings placed SCAD as the No. 1 university in the US and in the top two universities in the Americas and Europe. In 2019, The Rookies ranked SCAD as the Best 3D Motion Graphics School for the fourth consecutive year. Career preparation is woven into every fiber of the university, resulting in a superior alumni employment rate. According to a recent study, 99 percent of Spring 2017 SCAD graduates were employed, pursuing further education or both within 10 months of graduation.   

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Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
October 3, 2019

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