Frost Museum to host ‘Casting Shadows’ exhibit in honor of MLK

Photo credit: Victoria Lynch

Lisbette Castillo/Contributing Writer

Every year, the Frost Museum hosts an exhibit to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and this January, artist Edward West will showcase a series of photographs depicting post-apartheid society in South Africa and the daily lives of the people living outside of urban centers.

West traveled to South Africa after apartheid was abandoned in the early 1990s and visited different communities where people of color were forced to live during segregation. These communities are known as townships and squatter camps.

His aim wasn’t to highlight poor conditions or what happens under racism or racial segregation,” said Ashley Valines, curatorial assistant at the Frost Museum. “His point was to document everyday life for these people.”

The title for the exhibit comes from West’s use of light and shadow in his images. He was also inspired by one of the largest townships in South Africa called Soweto, which holds the the nickname, “Shadow City.”

“It’s the connotation behind shadows,” said Valines. “It’s the things that dwell invisible, things that dwell on the edges of our vision, things that don’t want to be seen or that we don’t want to see — shadow.”

Very few photographs in this collection allow the viewer to make out the subject’s features. Under apartheid, having your face photographed for anything other than your passport or card was cause for imprisonment or death as it could be used to identify individuals in anti-apartheid protests. 

“I really love this particular exhibition,” said Maryanna Ramirez, manager of Strategic Initiative at the Frost Museum. “These photographs are striking and stunning.”

Ramirez said that one of their goals with this exhibit was identifying artists who are producing work that speak to some of King’s messages.

“We are trying to bring artists here that are looking at issues of race, diversity, humanity and social justice,” said Ramirez.

West will hold a lecture prior to the opening of the exhibition on Jan. 19 at 4 p.m. where he will discuss his artwork and his time in South Africa,  followed by a reception from 5-7 p.m.

“It really is a great time for students to listen to a working artist,” said Ramirez. “There will be time for questions – he is very approachable and wonderful, and really is an engaging person.”

The exhibition is open to everyone. For more information, visit

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