In A Stirring Song, Sung Heroic, William Earle Williams recuperates and documents crucial sites of America’s history of the slave trade, the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and Emancipation that have largely gone unmarked and overlooked. Williams’ black and white silver gelatin prints present sites of brutality and struggle with elegant dignity, summoning the strength and tenacity of the individuals who toiled and sacrificed to determine “the meaning of freedom.” The pictorial history Williams charts is augmented with archival ephemera, including maps, newspapers, books, and manuscripts. By giving visual presence to unsung sites of this troubled history, A Stirring Song, Sung Heroic bears witness to and memorializes their magnitude.
William E. Williams is the Audrey A. and John L. Dusseau Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Fine Arts and Curator of Photography at Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania. His photographs have been widely exhibited including group and solo exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art, George Eastman House, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The National Gallery, Smith College and Center for Documentary Studies- Duke University. His work is represented in many public collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Museum of Fine Arts Houston, National Gallery Washington, DC. Williams has received individual artist fellowships from the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.