“The American President,” a compelling Associated Press photo exhibit portraying American presidents during memorable events in American history, is currently on display in Washington and Lee University's Leyburn Library.
The exhibit, consisting of 16 panels and more than 80 photos, shows American presidents leading the country through times of war, peace, victory, defeat, and scandal. It is currently open for public view on the first floor of Leyburn Library, and it will remain on display through Nov. 9.
“The American President” exhibit features both famous Pulitzer Prize-winning images, like Paul Vathis’ photo of John F. Kennedy conferring with Dwight D. Eisenhower at Camp David after the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion, and less recognized photos, like former President George H.W. Bush reacting jokingly as he attempts to open a locked door at a news conference in China.
The exhibit also includes an introduction written by former President George H.W. Bush that reads: "The men and women who have covered the White House for the AP dating back to the middle part of the 19th Century have truly had a 'front-row seat to history.' Through their lenses, succeeding generations of AP 'photodogs' have captured both the ecstasy and agony of the American Presidency, and contributed in important ways to the historical record of each administration."
The department of journalism and mass communications teamed up with the University Library to bring the exhibition to campus. Pamela Luecke, Reynolds Professor of Journalism and chair of the department, worked with Associated Press officials to obtain the display, and Richard Grefe, senior reference librarian, has handled all of the logistics.
According to Grefe, the exhibit has already caught the eyes of many W&L students. He also mentioned that the photos from the exhibit, along with many thousands of other AP photos, are available to researchers through the AP images database, which can be accessed through the University Library.
Luecke said that she is especially excited about having the exhibit at W&L. “As a former journalist myself I have great reverence for the job that photojournalists do,” she said.
Luecke added that the AP photo exhibit is one of many activities planned by the journalism department for this academic year in efforts to put greater emphasis on photojournalism.
For instance, the W&L journalism department will collaborate with Virginia Military Institute’s George C. Marshall Museum to present another photojournalism exhibit this month entitled, “Conflict Zone.”
That exhibit displays moving photographs capturing the devastation and realities of war. Photojournalist Ben Brody, who has covered war as both a soldier and a civilian, will open the exhibit with a talk entitled, “Photojournalism in an Era of Counterinsurgency.” His talk is at 5:30 on Thursday, Nov. 8, at the Marshall Museum on the VMI Post. The talk and exhibit are free and open to the public.
Along with presenting the exhibits, the W&L journalism department is hoping to offer a new one-credit photojournalism course.
— by Sara Korash-Schiff '15
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs