Black Image Corporation Keeps Print Magazine Alive

DeAndre Washington, Arts & Entertainment Editor

It is disheartening to watch the decline in the popularity of print magazines in Atlanta. The Quick Quick, a popular site in Ponce City Market that is known for housing magazines such as BRICK Magazine, DAZED Magazine and i-D Magazine, has officially closed down. What that means is there is no longer an accessible place to collect magazines specifying in fashion, art, photography, and music. The significance of this decline depends on one’s interest in print collecting given these magazines are still digitally released.

But luckily, the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art has now become the premier location for “Theaster Gates: Black Image Corporation”; a participatory exhibition created by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates to explore the archived legacy of Johnson Publishing Company predominantly known for their contributions to both EBONY and Jet magazine. Running from January 28th until May 16th, this exhibition aims to discuss the influence African American aesthetic and cultural languages have upon American culture through the lens of photography.

The Black Image Corporation includes roughly four million images that were crafted together in order to change the nature of images that were presented within the Prada Observatory. The requirement for viewing the images is simply to wear white gloves that help prevent any smudges to graze the photos. The premier night included a conversation with Daisy Desrosiers, Program Director for the Lunder Institute of American Art, who has been working closely with Theaster Gates on the exhibition. 

In that conversation, Desrosiers spoke about her time with Theaster Gates, the importance of the Black Image Corporation, and her opinion on the connotation behind the naming. When asked how she felt about naming and biography given to women in the exhibition such as Eartha Kitt or Coretta Scott-King, Desrosiers expressed her encouragement of it, stating “Naming creates conversation and that’s the goal of the images. I encourage the different variations of naming and identity.”

Desrosiers continues by expressing her appreciation for the chic idea of wearing white gloves to touch the images. She reminisces on meeting a woman who wore the white gloves and said wearing them reminded her of going to church. A sentiment that rings true when walking into an exhibition of nothing but images of black women. To walk onto a campus built for women and walk into a museum comprised of images of women; makes this exhibition just as symbolic as the images are beautiful.

While the popularity of print magazines has dwindled, interest in archival photography has not. Black Image Corporation is prompting to keep the publishing formerly known as print alive just as much as it is a reminder of African American’s cultural influence. Theaster Gates, creator of the Black Image Corporation, will be at Spelman College on April 2nd to discuss his work for the Art Papers live event.


Spelman College // Photo courtesy