Shadow to Substance - image header

Shadow to Substance

July 27, 2021–February 27, 2022

The exhibition, Shadow to Substance (title taken from Sojourner Truth), is curated by Kimberly Williams, University of Florida Graduate Candidate in English; Dr. Porchia Moore, University of Florida Assistant Professor, Museum Studies and Dr. Carol McCusker, Harn Curator of Photography. Shadow to Substance creates a chronological arc from the past to the present into the future using historical photographs from the Harn and Smathers Library collections and through the lens of Black photographers working today. It examines Jim Crow Florida, the Great Migration, the Civil Rights Movement and Black Lives Matter. But it does so through images that expand ideas around healing, myth, intimacy, joy, resistance and rebirth. The exhibition, and its attending programs, will create a space for visitors to see and identify with uplifting narratives shaped by an invigorated portrait of Black life.

This exhibition is made possible by generous support from Dr. R. James Toussaint and Mrs. Sara Toussaint.


Spotify Playlist

Developed by Kimberly Williams, Exhibition Co-Curator


Aftercare Resource List

Click on the image below for the PDF with hyperlinks.


Links to Additional Resources

Harriet Tubman

Mother Brown 

Sojourner Truth 

Explore the Great Migration

Soul Fire Farm

Kirwan Institute

School-to-Prison Pipeline 

BLM Photos

Ieshia Evans 

African Mythic Worlds

Nap Ministry

Ericka Hart


TouchTable Content

Click here for resources available on the TouchTable in the exhibition.


Coffee with the Curators Blog

A Work of Heart with Carol McCusker, Curator of Photography, posted June 25, 2021


Sojourner Truth’s Truth in Photographs with Carol McCusker, Curator of Photography, posted February 26, 2021


Poetry by E. Stanley Richardson, Museum Nights, August 2021

Please enjoy more of E. Stanley Richardson's poetry inspired by this exhibition at the Harn's YouTube page.

Light Blue by Stanley E. Richardson


Save the Date


Exhibition Walk-Through



Gallery Talk
Sunday, February 6, 3 pm
Speaker: Dr. Porchia Moore, UF Assistant Professor in Museum Studies 

Dr. Moore, exhibition co-curator, provides inspiring and insightful perspectives in the final weeks of this exhibition ranging from historical photographs of African American experiences to the work of contemporary Black photographers.


Museum Nights
Vibrant Africa
Thursday, February 10, 6 - 9 pm

Art, dance and music with UF's African Popular Music Ensemble; the Agbedidi Dance Ensemble and dancers from Nan Nkama Ensemble from Jacksonville. Learn more.


Black Art Futures  
Thursday, January 27, 6 pm  

Speaker: Cheryl Finley, Associate Professor of Art History Cornell University (On Leave), Director, Atlanta University Center Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective and Distinguished Visiting Professor, Spelman College   

Black Art Futures examines the state of the contemporary arts ecosystem to propose sustainable pathways for art, innovation and activism. Drawing on a book in progress of the same name, this talk is inspired by Shadow to Substance, to demonstrate how photography, throughout its history, has played a key role in both documenting and delivering social change.   


Lecture & Book Signing
Emancipation Betrayed

Sunday, January 23, 3 pm

Speaker: Paul Ortiz, UF Professor History and director of the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program

Paul Ortiz speaks about Black struggles and successes seeking political and economic justice in Florida well before the Civil Rights movement. This lecture, on the occasion of Shadow to Substance, draws from Professor Ortiz’s book "Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920," available at the book signing that follows the lecture. Presented in conjunction with the Harn exhibition Shadow to Substance


Artist Talk
Endia Beal
Thursday, January 13, 2022, 6:30–8 pm - Live-streamed

Endia Beal–a boundary-pushing socially engaged artist and TIME photographer of the year–will present a live-stream talk to attend in the museum or online and educators will offer micro tours in the galleries.


Gallery Talk
Sunday, September 19, 2021, 3 pm

Join curators Dr. Porchia Moore (UF Assistant Professor of Museum Studies), Kimberly Williams (UF Graduate Student in English) and Dr. Carol McCusker (Harn Curator of Photography) for an overview of the exhibition and a discussion of its inspiring themes.

Image credits

Left: Sheila Pree Bright, The Rebirth of Us, 2020, archival inkjet print, Courtesy of the artist, Sheila Pree Bright

Right: Ayana V. Jackson, Moments of Sweet Reprieve, 2016, from the series Intimate Justice in the Stolen Moment, archival pigment print, Courtesy of Mariane Ibrahim

Preview Video

Art images in order of appearance: Ayana V. Jackson, Sighting in the Abyss II, from the series Take Me to the Water, 2019; Endia Beal, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, 2020; Sheila Pree Bright, The Rebirth of Us, 2020; Charlotte Watts, Resting for the Ancestors III, in collaboration with Tricia Hersey’s Nap Ministry, 2018