The Evidence of Things Not Seen

104 Paintings: oil on linen, toner on silk, audio


McCallum & Tarry

McCallum & Tarry

Exhibition featuring 104 paintings- at New Orleans African American Museum (2008)

Oil on linen, toner on silk- accompanied by audio

The Evidence of Things Not Seen is a project that was commissioned for Prospect.1 New Orleans (2008), and was presented at the New Orleans African American Museum.

"The Evidence of Things Not Seen is a series of 104 individually painted rectangular and oval portraits. This body of work honors and commemorates the protesters arrested during and following the historic 1955-1956 Montgomery Bus Boycotts. The source images for these portraits are original mug shots that were taken upon each protesters’ arrest. The muted color palette and cropping of the original image consistently adopted in these portraits imparts an artful elegance to what might otherwise be considered perfunctory photographic records of “criminals.” The subtle color highlights the calm resolve and staid spirit of each sitter, as well as the disciplined nature of their civil disobedience. Proudly clad in their “Sunday best,” these subjects further distinguish themselves from the context of traditional criminal mug shots through their tasteful attire, composed postures, and determined gazes. Familiar faces, such as Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., are amongst the many not remembered (and yet numbered) who join the ranks of those acknowledged in history as their gazes meet those of the viewer, their iconic expressions confirming the collective impact of all of these individuals. These visually arresting portraits comprise two layers: an oil-on-linen painting based on the original mug shot and a photographic image printed on sheer silk. The resulting spectral surface recalls oft-forgotten history, as the viewer strains to determine how the diluted prisoners’ arrest records, omitted on the painted layer, persist as faint shadows printed onto the silk. Each portrait is further distanced from its original “criminal” context, locked within a simple, double white wooden frame that announces this work’s dialogue between classical portraiture and documentary photographic evidence.”

Source: "Evenly Yoked." In Bearing Witness: Work by Bradley McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry, edited by Jennie Hirsh, 22-23.  Baltimore, MD: Maryland Institute College of Art, 2010.  

The complete series of 104 portraits were shown at the Carroll Mansion in Baltimore as part of McCallum and Tarry's mid-career solo show, Bearing Witness: Work by Bradley McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry.

Fred D. Gray (arrest #7011)


Prospect 1 Biennial

New Orleans African American Museum, New Orleans


McCallum Tarry: Intersections

Burchfield Penny Center, Buffalo, New York



  • 2008

  • Acknowledgements

    Audio: Imani Uzuri, John Boutte, and Bradley McCallum 

    The Evidence of Things Not Seen at the New Orleans African American Museum was commissioned by Dan Cameron as a part of Prospect.1 New Orleans in 2008. 

    Special thanks to the Carroll Museums for the work's installation in Baltimore as part of Bearing Witness: Work by Bradley McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry