The upcoming exhibition, “The Ways of Langston Hughes,” offers a captivating glimpse into the life and connections of the iconic Harlem Renaissance poet, Langston Hughes (1901 – 1967). Hughes, a central figure in the cultural and intellectual movements of his time, held meaningful friendships with a diverse group of artists spanning generations and disciplines. The exhibition, featuring the photography of Griffith Davis (1923 – 1993), delves into the intimate moments shared by Hughes with students, writers, visual artists, and performers throughout their maturation.
Langston Hughes played a pivotal role in forging connections between creative professionals, encouraging the work of others, and contributing to the development of a larger network of Black creatives and intellectuals. Among the notable individuals influenced by Hughes were Arna Bontemps, Zora Neale Hurston, Dorothy West, Regina Andrews, Margaret Danner, Louis Armstrong, Randy Weston, and Roy DeCarava. These connections became a powerful force in responding to and shaping the current events of their time.
One of the notable friendships explored in the exhibition is the bond between Langston Hughes and photojournalist Griffith Davis. Their connection began in the classroom at Atlanta University, where Davis was a student and Hughes a visiting professor. After graduating from Morehouse College, Davis became the first Roving Editor of Ebony magazine, thanks to Hughes’ recommendation. The exhibition highlights how Davis used Hughes’ Harlem home as a base while working as an international freelance photojournalist and explores the professional collaborations that emerged from their mentorship.
Griff Davis’s photography takes center stage in the exhibition, offering a visual narrative of the intimate moments shared between Langston Hughes and his contemporaries. The photographs provide a unique perspective on Hughes with students, writers, visual artists, and performers in different periods of their maturation. Complemented by archival material from the Schomburg Center’s collections and personal correspondence spanning decades, the exhibition paints a comprehensive picture of Hughes’ influence on Davis and their enduring friendship.
The exhibition, titled “Griff Davis-Langston Hughes, Letters and Photographs, 1947 – 1967: A Global Friendship,” originated at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts and has been adapted for display at the Schomburg Center. It not only showcases the artistic and intellectual legacy of Langston Hughes but also reflects on the global impact of his friendships and collaborations.
“The Ways of Langston Hughes” promises to be a captivating journey through the life, friendships, and creative collaborations of a literary giant. As attendees explore the photographs, archival material, and personal correspondence, they will gain a deeper understanding of Hughes’ role in shaping a vibrant community of Black creatives and intellectuals. The exhibition serves as a tribute to the enduring friendships that fueled artistic expression and cultural movements during a transformative period in American history.
- Exhibition: The Ways of Langston Hughes
- Date: Thursday, February 1, 2023
- Time: 5:00 PM
- Venue: Schomburg Center