“The Bottom,” Johanna Warwick

Goodwyn Gallery is pleased to present “The Bottom,” an exhibition of work by Johanna Warwick, Assistant Professor of Art & Photography at Louisiana State University, that is open from January 13 – March 13, 2020. Raised in Toronto and now living in Baton Rouge, LA, Warwick holds an MFA in Photography from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a BFA in Photography from Ryerson University. She is the recipient of several grants, including a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship. and has exhibited in New York, Toronto, Cambridge, MA, Dallas, Philadelphia, and other major North American cities.

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The exhibition is intended as a complement to the  Southern Studies Conference, hosted at Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) January 31-February 1, 2020. As a part of the exhibition and conference programming, Warwick will present a Keynote lecture on Friday, January 31, 2020 from 5:00-6:00 pm in Goodwyn Hall 109. This event is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.

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The exhibition “The Bottom” presents a series of photographs documenting historic Old South Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Nicknamed the bottom, half of this neighborhood is settled below a fault line and historically floods. Once part of the Magnolia Mound Plantation, in the early 1900s it was divided into small shotgun lots to create a low-income neighborhood that attracted immigrant and African American residents. Racial segregation made the Bottom a thriving, self-sustaining black community, that was home to black-owned businesses, a High School (one of the first in the state for African Americans), and churches. Despite community protests, the building of the I-10 highway in the 1960s demolished 400 houses, bisected the neighborhood in two, and drove the area to economic collapse.

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Today, the Bottom covers three square miles and is home to approximately 11,800 residents. The area continues to be transformed by highway expansion projects – including the current widening of the I-10, urban development, and community displacement. This exhibition focuses on this historically black neighborhood and its urban landscapes, and highlights the community of individuals who call the area home.

The Bottom also relates to Montgomery’s urban history, wherein the construction of I-65 and I-85 in the early 1960s eradicated thriving African American communities. Indeed, the stories that Warwick’s images tell replicate narratives that resonate within our local community and neighborhoods in thought-provoking ways. This exhibition asks you to consider how city planning can affect entire communities, who is often targeted by such projects, and what can be gained or lost through these endeavors.

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This exhibition and corresponding lecture were generously supported by a grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts

 

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