At first glance, Gillian Laub’s “Southern Rites” exhibit at the Chazen Museum Museum of Art could be seen as portraying the pageantry of a prom night in a small southern community. But, that’s just the surface. Look a bit longer and it becomes clear the photographs tell a much more complicated story.
Laub is a UW-Madison graduate, an author, journalist, filmmaker, and photographer — and “Southern Rites” puts all of her skills on display. What started as a magazine assignment covering a high school prom in Mount Vernon, Georgia in 2002 turned into photographing the surrounding Montgomery County. Her closer look into that prom night revealed that segregation was alive and well in the community.
“We need to understand all different points of view, and it needs to be OK to not agree with each other. This may make a lot of people uncomfortable, but you can’t shut your eyes and just close down on things that make you uncomfortable,” says Laub.
In this edition of Radio Chipstone, Laub tells contributor Gianofer Fields that while the photographs tell a troubling story, it's worth the hard work to get to the other side and see the big picture:
Material culture contributor Gianofer Fields curates the Radio Chipstone series. The project is funded by the Chipstone Foundation, a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts.