In response to new COVID-19 restrictions, the RIC is temporarily closed. Learn more.

Skip Navigation

Sister(s) in the Struggle: Angela Davis and Kathleen Cleaver

January 18 – April 9, 2017
Great Hall, Ryerson Image Centre

Guest Curator: Julie Crooks

Icons. Heroines. Feminists. Fighters. Fugitives. Such denotations are but a few that have shaped the public personas of Angela Davis and Kathleen Cleaver, key female leaders and supporters of the Black Panther Party. Active in the United States between 1966 and 1982, this revolutionary organization was dedicated to the struggle for black empowerment and liberation. Through the dissemination of their photographic likenesses in newspapers and such publications as Life, Newsweek, Ebony, and Jet, Davis and Cleaver reached cult-like status.

Against the backdrop of their tireless activism, these photographs culled from the RIC’s Black Star Collection depict the two figures in fleeting moments of pleasure, reflection, or vulnerability. Invariably, Davis and Cleaver evoke the many unnamed black women who have fought for justice. The revolution’s “long spectrum,” in Davis’s words, is embodied by these images of sisters in the struggle.





Event(s):

Opening Party
Wednesday, January 18
6:00–8:00 PM

Exhibition Tour
With Paul Roth and Julie Crooks
Wednesday, February 22
6:00 PM

Exhibition Tours
Daily 2:30 PM

All events take place at the Ryerson Image Centre, unless otherwise noted

Co-presented with the Black Artists’ Networks Dialogue

Woman smoking, smoke covering her face
Fig. 1

George L. Walker III, Untitled [Angela Davis, Nashville, Tennessee], gelatin silver print, 8x10, 1972. Courtesy of the artist

A smiling woman standing at a podium raising her fist in celebration
Fig. 2

Janet Fries, Untitled [Angela Davis], gelatin silver print, 8x10, 1975. Courtesy of the artist

A woman in a black turtleneck and jeans smiling
Fig. 3

Cynthia Benjamins, Untitled [Angela Davis], gelatin silver print, 8x10, 1978. Courtesy of the artist

A woman in a black turtleneck sits at a desk
Fig. 4

Jeffrey Blankfort, Untitled [Kathleen Cleaver, Oakland, California], gelatin silver print, 8x10, 1968. Courtesy of the artist

A woman smoking a cigarette, wearing a bracelet, earrings, and an intricate top
Fig. 5

Allan Copeland, Untitled [Kathleen Cleaver at the Black Panther Headquarters, San Francisco, California], gelatin silver print, 8x10, 1968. Courtesy of the artist

Artist and Curator Bios

Angela Davis
Artist

Kathleen Cleaver
Artist

Julie Crooks
Guest Curator

Julie received a PhD in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), at the University of London in 2014. Her research focuses on historical photography in Sierra Leone, West Africa and the diaspora. She has taught numerous courses in these fields at the Art Gallery of Ontario, as well as Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU), University of Toronto, Wilfrid Laurier University, and York University. Currently, Julie is a Rebanks Postdoctoral Fellow at the Royal Ontario Museum researching the various engagements of black/African audiences with the African Gallery and the photographic history of Blacks in Canada.

Installation Shots

8 photographs in black frames hung on a white wall above a white display case
Fig. 1

From the Collection: Sister(s) in the Struggle, Angela Davis and Kathleen Cleaver (installation view), 2017 © James Morley, Ryerson Image Centre

Two framed photographs, the top of a woman smiling at a podium, the bottom of a group of women smiling
Fig. 2

From the Collection: Sister(s) in the Struggle, Angela Davis and Kathleen Cleaver (installation view), 2017 © James Morley, Ryerson Image Centre

2 magazines in a display case. On the left, the cover of Life magazine, text reads "The Making of a Fugitive". On the right, a magazine open to a page reading "The Path of Angela Davis"
Fig. 3

From the Collection: Sister(s) in the Struggle, Angela Davis and Kathleen Cleaver (installation view), 2017 © James Morley, Ryerson Image Centre

Sponsors

Co-presented with the Black Artists’ Networks Dialogue