A photographic celebration and exploration of Black identity and experience through the twentieth century from the founder and curator of the hit multimedia platform Black Archives.
“Browsing the book ultimately feels like looking through one immense family photo album. And that’s intentional.”—Essence
Renata Cherlise’s family loved capturing their lives in photographs and home movies, sparking her love of archival photography. Following in her family’s footsteps, Cherlise established Black Archives, which presents a nuanced representation of Black people across time living vibrant, ordinary lives. Through the platform, many have discovered and shared images of themselves and their loved ones experiencing daily life, forming multidimensional portraits of people, places, and the Black community. These photographs not only tell captivating stories, they hold space for collective memory and kinship.
Black Archives is a stunning collection of timeless images that tell powerful, joyful stories of everyday life and shed light on Black culture’s dynamic, enduring influence through the generations. The images showcase reunions, nights out on the town, parents and children, church and school functions, holidays, big life events, family vacations, moments at home, and many more occasions of leisure, excitement, reflection, and pride.
Featuring more than three hundred images that spotlight the iconic and the candid, Black Archives offers a nuanced compendium of Black memory and imagination.
About the Author
Renata Cherlise is a multidisciplinary, research-based visual artist who uses various mediums to explore themes of identity, family, and culture. Cherlise’s work seamlessly bridges her Southern upbringing with contemporary methodologies in digital and physical spaces while reimagining notions of the Black experience. Her archival project, Black Archives, has evolved from a photo-based website of visual narratives into a collaborative platform featuring archival histories and modern-day stories from across the African diaspora.
“Black Archives excels in cultivating an intimate and accessible experience—one that animates the multidimensional realities of Black existence with the power of community and acknowledgement of heritage. It is a triumph of community—one that denies us the ability to forget the ways that we celebrate our families, fight for our legacies, and support each other throughout the diaspora, from the mundane to the most significant milestones, despite consistently being socialized via white supremacist pathology to believe otherwise.”—Harper’s Bazaar
“In her new book, Black Archives: A Photographic Celebration of Black Life, Renata Cherlise makes the case for celebrating everyday Black joy.”—Vox
“The Black Archives book—out this month—is the embodiment of one of the core ideals of the platform: honoring the Black past by making it accessible.”—The Cut
“Black Archives is a testament to the potency of Black collective memory held through photography. Using her own expansive, familial collection of photographs, Renata Cherlise sets forth a spell-binding visual narrativization of family, culture, and history.”—Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem
“This book is a refuge as it shows how photographs have been consumed and shared by family members, churches, libraries, archives, and photographers. In viewing this book, we see interwoven stories about self-fashioning, representation, beauty, politics, and community memorialized through the camera. The photographs presented here create some of the most compelling visual responses to racialized images that objectified Black people and circulated through the history of the photographic medium. This amazing book with its dazzlingly-designed pages reflects the pride and determination of the people who created their own archives.”—Dr. Deborah Willis, author of Posing Beauty in Black American Culture
“The collection of personal photographs in this visual time capsule showcases the daily lives of African Americans. Thanks to Renata Cherlise, they are now a part of an important historic document giving new life and meaning to each image, while providing future generations with a greater source of stories that are told through photographs.”—Jamel Shabazz, documentary photographer and author