Early 20th-century New Orleans photographer Florestine Perrault Collins (1895–1988) was a singular talent. A black Creole whose family faced hard times, Collins learned photography to diminish the financial burden and did so (like Show Boat's Julie LaVerne) while necessarily “passing” as a white woman. But Collins' talent and unique aesthetic surpassed that humiliating episode, and by the time she'd settled in New Orleans and opened her own portrait studio, the photographer was creating an amazing body of work. As documented and examined in Arthé Anthony's fascinating new book, Picturing Black New Orleans: A Creole Photographer's View of the Early Twentieth Century, she displayed both a remarkable,subtly sensual aesthetic and also, via her collaborative depictions of the local African-American community, engaged in a stealthy form of defiance to racial bigotry, the “hidden resistance,” which aimed to confer dignity and equality unto her routinely oppressed subjects. Author Anthony, a professor of American Studies at Occidental College and, more significantly, Collins' great-niece, is certain to apply both acute scholarly analysis and warm, familial pride in equally engrossing measures at this unique celebration. Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Mon., Nov. 26, 7 p.m.; free, book is $34.95. (626) 449-5320; vromansbookstore.com.
Mon., Nov. 26, 7 p.m., 2012
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