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Shawn Walker

(American, born 1940)

Untitled, from the Harlem series

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Object Details

Artist

Shawn Walker

Date

1963

Medium

Gelatin silver print

Dimensions

Image: 6 5/8 × 4 1/2 inches (16.8 × 11.4 cm)
Sheet: 13 7/8 × 10 15/16 inches (35.2 × 27.8 cm)

Credit Line

Acquired through the Warner L. Overton, Class of 1922, Endowment

Object
Number

2022.009

Shawn Walker was one of the original members of the Kamoinge Workshop, a collective of Black art pho(…)

Shawn Walker was one of the original members of the Kamoinge Workshop, a collective of Black art photographers formed in New York City in 1963. He has lived in Harlem all his life. His work is unusual amongst the Johnson’s holdings of twentieth-century New York City street photography in that it expresses a personal vision rooted in community knowledge and activist politics.

This striking portrait dates from early in Walker’s career. Walker has often photographed children, but this image is of a rare gravitas. The close cropping directs our attention immediately to the face and particularly the eyes of this serious looking child. Only after a beat do we take in the knitted winter hood and layers of clothing, and particularly the coat with its escaping threads—details that suggest the child’s vulnerability despite his self-possessed expression and compel feelings of tenderness toward this young Harlem resident.

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