Saturday Night Function

This past October, I was fortunate enough to travel back to Atlanta, GA to celebrate homecoming and the 150th anniversary of my alma mater, Morehouse College. Morehouse holds a special place in heart because that is where I discovered photography. Being back in the Atlanta University Center was quite surreal. I was able to reconnect with friends and professors, but most importantly I was reminded of why I opted to pursue photography after graduation. The representations of blackness that thrive there weren’t the depictions that I saw in western art or even in the media. These types of affirmations are best embodied by living through them.

Located directly adjacent to Morehouse is the Clark Atlanta University Museum of Art. The current exhibition Leisure without Luxury is a wonderful embodiment of that diversity of blackness. Within the selection of works, there was joy, critical thought, satisfaction, and even a hint of pleasure. Most notably was an oil painting by William M. Hayden entitled Saturday Night Function, 1950. This painting encapsulates all of it. There is an air of respectability as well as the shedding of inhibitions.

Saturday Night Function, 1950 – William H Hayden

The colors are so wonderfully complimentary. The warmth simply radiates throughout the canvas. In a time when joy (and still is) was a political protest, Hayden’s ability to capture this simple indulgence is quite remarkable. Both corners of the foreground illustrate two couples embracing unapologetically. The jazz band playing to the left oozes confidence while immediately adjacent the delicate flow of the woman’s dress as she dances, depicts a feverish lust for life.

Seeing these works grounded me in a way that is almost inexplicable. It furthered my understanding of what I am pursuing in my own work, and also that it can be done.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s