PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The extended family of legendary photographer Teenie Harris poses for their own photographs, as cameras click at the Carnegie Museum of Art.
The exhibit, “Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story,” is a snap shot documentary spanning four decades: from 1934, to 1974.
The 987 black and white images on the museum walls capture moments with celebrities like Lena Horne, and moments with family. Teenie Harris and his son are prominently featured in one of them.
“He never went anywhere without the camera,” recalls museukm guest Charles “Teenie” Harris, Jr. “He was always taking pictures of something. But it didn’t dawn on me how important it would be in the future.”
The collection, now owned by the Museum of Art, is considered the most complete documentation of urban America in the 20th century. It consists of nearly 80,000 negatives.
Researchers have been going through them for 10 years and they’re still not finished. His photographs for the Pittsburgh Courier convey an image of black America that was lacking in other media.
“Mainstream press, you wouldn’t have that kind of pictures,” says his son. “The only thing you would see in the mainline press would be negative. And he was showing the positive images of the African American community.”
Teenie Harris passed away in 1998, at the age of 89. But he lived to see his photographs acquired by a museum that would guarantee their safety. His son says that brought him a sense of relief. “This is where he wanted his work to be, and lucky for us right now, it is right here.”
The exhibit continues through April 7.
Carnegie Museum of Art: Teenie Harris