• Leaning into the City: The Photographs of Bob Crawford, 1966–1976
    Romi Crawford

Bob Crawford, Untitled, 1973, Chicago. Courtesy of the artist.

Leaning into the City: The Photographs of Bob Crawford, 1966–1976 aims to research, compile, document, and interpret images from the archive of a Chicago-based photojournalist most active in the 1960s and ’70s (and most noted for his documentation of the "Wall of Respect," 1967). In addition to the city's buildings and structural forms, the photos demonstrate a type of bodily architecture. Of special interest are recurring images that reflect African-Americans' gestural relation to urban architectural forms. Gestures, such as “the lean,” can be interpreted not just as displays of affect but also as an important continuum of the buildings themselves. This project queries the relation of these two architectures and theorizes the significance of these interconnected forms to the construction of a particularly urbanized racial identity. The lean, as well as other gestures, will be closely considered, as they may indicate an important symbolic, reflecting African-American desires to occupy, participate in, and engage with the city.

Romi Crawford is an associate professor of visual and critical and Africana studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was previously the curator and director of Education and Public Programs at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Her research revolves primarily around ideas of race and ethnicity and their relation to American visual, aesthetic, and popular culture. She has published in Art Journal; Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Film and Video Artists (University of Washington, 2008); Black Light/White Noise: Sound and Light in Contemporary Art (Contemporary Art Museum Houston, 2007); Frequency (Studio Museum in Harlem, 2006); Art and Social Justice Education: Culture as Commons (Routledge, 2011); and Service Media (Green Lantern, 2013). She is presently working on a book Congregation Time, which maps out various ways that American racial and ethnic constituents have historically sought safe, racially supportive, social space in order to orient their relation to art, film, and literary production. She received her MA and PhD in English literature, theory, and criticism from the University of Chicago.