In Photos: Black Photographers on Black Fatherhood

Curated by SMPA’s Imani M. Cheers and opening to public view June 19, “Framing Fatherhood” at the Corcoran centers holistic representations of Black masculinity.

June 14, 2022

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Jamel Shabazz, "Father and Son, Brooklyn, 1982." This photo is one of more than 75 featured in the Corcoran's new photojournalism exhibition, "Framing Fatherhood."

Father’s Day this year falls on Juneteenth, the traditional celebration of Black American emancipation and the newest federal holiday. George Washington University’s Imani Cheers has long seen that confluence as an opportunity. In 2020, she intentionally chose this weekend as the opening date for an exhibition on positive images of Black men, for which Cheers, a trained photographer, originally planned to travel and take portraits.

Over the years since its inception, however, Cheers said she began to feel it was more important for this exhibit to spotlight Black male artists’ visions of their own peers and communities. As an artist, as an academic and particularly as a mother, Cheers said, her goal became “to crowdsource and curate” positive, layered images of Black men for her own son—images created by the Black men who are his potential mentors, role models and community members. 

That project is now “Framing Fatherhood,” a photojournalism exhibition hosted by the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design that celebrates visions of Black masculinity through the lens of 14 Black male artists. “Framing Fatherhood” is an extension of “It Takes a Village: Basics of Boyhood and Messages of Manhood,” Cheers’ ongoing media project exploring the representation and reality of Black men as children, adults, friends, partners and parents. It opens at the Flagg Building Saturday with an artists’ panel discussion at 6 p.m. followed by an opening reception. Both events are open to the GW community, including students.

“We know, unfortunately, that being Black in America is a challenging space…so when I'm raising my son in an American context, I have to consciously make sure that he knows that he is loved and valued,” said Cheers, who is interim senior associate provost for undergraduate education as well as an associate professor of media and public affairs in the School of Media and Public Affairs. “The purpose of this exhibition is for him to be uplifted by and reminded of the good that I already know exists.”

Admission for “Framing Fatherhood” is free. The show is open to the public from June 19 to July 31, Wednesdays through Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m., at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, 500 17th Street NW. See GW's visitor guidelines for more. Masks are required for entry.