On View Now: Fred Hagstrom’s Passage, The Little Book of Slavery and their Origins

The blog has been on summer vacation! We are so pleased to be back with the news that we have a new mini-exhibition ready for visitors! We encourage you to stop by the First Floor Gallery to take a look at  “Fred Hagstrom’s Passage, The Little Book of Slavery and their Origins.”

hagstrom_caseThis exhibition features two recently acquired artists’ books that draw on artifacts deeply rooted in our collections of African-American history and slavery-related materials.Using iconic images and texts from the transatlantic slave trade and the anti-slavery movement, American artist Fred Hagstrom produces a compelling interpretation of this history. On display with Hagstrom’s books are artifacts the artist used as the conceptual foundations of his artistic statements about the immorality of slavery. In both books, he produces heavy layers of texture and color in his interpretations of the iconic diagram of the slave ship Brookes, photographs, engravings, and texts from the era of slavery.

Of particular note is Hagstrom’s use of our library’s famous daguerrotype of Isaac Granger Jefferson, who was enslaved by Thomas Jefferson. Visitors may compare the original image with Hagstrom’s interpretation of it.

This daguerrotype of Isaac Granger Jefferson is frequently reproduced as an historical artifact; Hagstrom's pixellated image of it, juxtaposed with high-resolution close-ups of the equally iconic image of the "Slave Ship Brookes," opens new interpretive possiblities.

This daguerrotype of Isaac Granger Jefferson is frequently reproduced as an historical artifact; Hagstrom’s exaggeratedly pixellated image of it, juxtaposed with high-resolution close-ups of the equally iconic image of the “Slave Ship Brookes,” opens new interpretive possiblities. (MSS 2041. Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History)

Detail of Hagstrom's Passage as it is exhibited.

The page featuring Isaac Granger Jefferson in  “Passage,” as it is exhibited. (N7433.4 .H34 P37 2013. Associates Endowment Fund)

hagstrom_brookes

Also on display is one of our copies of the famous diagram of “The British Slave Ship Brookes,” as it appeared in “An Abstract of the Evidence Delivered Before a Select Committee of the House of Commons, in the Years 1790 and 1790.” Edinburgh, Printed for J. Robertson, 1791. (HT1162 .a5 1791 no.1 Plate)

This exhibition offers just a glimpse into Mr. Hagstrom’s work, which we hope will be a fertile ground for study by students and scholars alike. Our artists’ books collections cover a wide variety of genres, aesthetic approaches, and subject matter, and we are particularly interested in examples that relate to our varied collecting strengths. Perhaps this exhibit will tempt you to come take a closer look at Passage or The Little Book of Slavery in our reading room after the exhibition comes down. Until then,  here are some more of the striking justapositions to be found in Passage:

The front cover of Passage. Image courtesy of the artist.

The front cover of “Passage.” Image by Peter Lee, courtesy of Fred Hagstrom.

A page spread in Passage. Image courtesy of the artist.

A page spread from “Passage.” (Click twice to zoom in to read the text.) Image by Peter Lee, courtesy of Fred Hagstrom.

Passage pages 5 (2)

A page spread from “Passage.” (Click twice to zoom in to read the text.) Image by Peter Lee, courtesy of Fred Hagstrom.

You can learn more about Hagstrom’s work on his Carleton College website.

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