A Museum Must-See: Reginald Cunningham is a photographer and influencer whose work focuses on urban style and portraiture. His editorial/activist lens, and his images of concerts, fashion icons, performers and thought leaders are at the forefront of contemporary photography.
Photography Exhibition on view now through January 22, 2023 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art in South Florida
The Boca Raton Museum of Art presents the premiere of Reginald Cunningham: Black Pearls, the first-ever solo museum exhibition of Cunningham’s work, on view now through January 22nd, 2023 in South Florida.
The Museum has commissioned Cunningham, nationally acclaimed for his brand BePureBlack.com, for this new series of photographs to honor the nearby historically Black neighborhood of Pearl City, celebrated as one of the earliest and longest lasting African American neighborhoods in Florida.
“The Pearl City residents are our Museum’s closest neighbors, located only two blocks away, and we want to celebrate our neighbors with this exhibition,” says Irvin Lippman, the Executive Director of the Boca Raton Museum of Art. This exhibition is curated by Kelli Bodle, the Museum’s Associate Curator.
“Because there is perpetually the threat of development that would throw asunder this neighborhood, we want to tell this story through the current residents whose ancestors were the original settlers,” adds Irvin Lippman, “To accomplish this visual storytelling with this new exhibition, the Museum selected Reginald Cunningham, whose photography celebrates Black identity and is currently earning national and international acclaim. It is a rare artist whose social activism matches their artistry.”
“Through the lens of my photography I’m always trying to create affinity for and uplift Black people and the Black experience in this country,” says Reginald Cunningham.
“Being commissioned by the Boca Raton Museum of Art to photograph the residents and cultural emblems of Pearl City ─ one of the South’s most beloved and enduring Black districts ─ is an amazing experience,” adds the artist.
Investigating further the different ways that community can be defined, the images in this exhibition highlight people and landmarks. This exhibition features 24 photographs by Reginald Cunningham, and personal mementos passed down through families for more than 100 years. With the aid of Dr. Candace Cunningham of Florida Atlantic University, this exhibition also features the oral histories of both current-day Pearl City residents and the children of the original settlers that have moved to other cities. Visitors to the Museum may hear the stories in the subjects’ own words via audio and transcribed video of the interviews. Interest in Pearl City has blossomed, and residents celebrate their community’s honored past. In recognizing their own history they see a connection to the broader struggle for equal rights. To many of these residents, holding on to their land is almost sacred.
“These works by Reginald Cunningham have now entered the Museum’s collection. This is most definitely a project born in the community, that serves to create a record for future generations,” says Lippman.
About the Artist
Reginald Cunningham (BePureBlack.com) is a Washington DC-based photographer known for his concert, fashion, and activist photography. He fully embraced the art of photography in 2017, and his works have been featured in The Washington Post, Essence, Ebony, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Take Part, and The Final Call.
His passion for photography was instilled by his mother, herself a photographer for more than 30 years. During his childhood, he was often in her studio absorbing her appreciation for portraiture. He began to develop his art during the Ferguson unrest.
“He doesn’t turn activism ‘on’ or ‘off’ with a swipe to the left or right. Instead, Reggie leads with his lens,” says Dr. Imani M. Cheers.
“Through his photography, Reggie captures the complexities of communities. He sees the nuances in neighbors. He puts himself directly on the front lines to bear witness, sacrifice his safety, and tell the truth.” adds Dr. Cheers.
His style is edgy and intimate, often forgoing smoothing and airbrushing in favor of sharper and more realistic images. He attended Lindenwood University, received a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and dual Master’s degrees in Digital & Multimedia Design and Promotional Communications.
About the Boca Raton Museum of Art
Founded by artists, Boca Raton Museum of Art was established in 1950 as the Art Guild of Boca Raton. The organization has grown, now in its eighth decade, to encompass a Museum, Art School, and Sculpture Garden. As one of South Florida’s leading cultural landmarks, the Museum has provided cultural and artistic service to the community, and to many visitors from around the world, since it was founded by artists in 1950.
Currently on view now, on the entire first floor of the Museum:
The monumental world premiere of Art of the Hollywood Backdrop (through January 22).
Coming in February:
The U.S. premiere of Whitfield Lovell: Passages ‒ amfedarts.org/whitfield-lovell-passages (February 15 ‒ May 21) The six-city tour of this major exhibition kicks off at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. Organized by the American Federation of Arts in collaboration with Whitfield Lovell.
The most comprehensive exhibition to date of the contemporary artist’s masterful conté crayon drawings, assemblages, and multi-sensory installations that focus on aspects of African American history while raising universal questions about identity, memory, and America’s collective heritage.