The Asia Pacific Peace Studies Institute (APPSI) at HNU hosted Julian Cox, chief curator and founding curator of photography at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, at an event on October 25 in the Valley Center for Performing Arts. Cox delivered an illustrated lecture about Danny Lyon: Message to the Future, an exhibition that will run at the de Young Museum from November 5 until April 30, 2017.
At the start of his lecture, Cox mentioned how the title of the exhibition reflected some of the themes of Lyon’s career. “What that title signals is that this artist, from the very beginning, has been aware of leaving a record of his impressions of the U.S. over the last 50 years,” Cox said.
Lyon was active in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to document direct actions, marches, and other activities in the South and elsewhere. His photos were used by SNCC to increase awareness of the movement and its struggles against racism. “Lyon was conscious of his role working against mainstream media, of undercutting magazines like Look or Life,” Cox said. “He wanted to tell his own story of what was happening throughout the country.”
Throughout his career, Lyon has been interested in exploring issues such as civil rights, immigration, and mass incarceration, though, as Cox explained, it was always through his art. “He [Lyon] is not an activist,” Cox said. “He’s an artist who uses the media of photography, films, and writing to say something about his culture and the way we live.”
Cox’s lecture was presented by APPSI and co-sponsored by the CORE Program in Integrative Studies Across Cultures. Learn about other upcoming APPSI events on the calendar page.