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Title Page

“You’re an American. You know what to do.”
Dr. Ernest Withers

“You’re an American. You know what to do.”


Dr. Ernest Withers

 
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A simple phrase uttered by his mentor describes Bill Chapman’s photography more concisely than the extensive commentary produced over the years about the man and his work. At a very early age, Chapman’s interests in politics, civil rights, baseball and music were tied to a passion for photography. Over the years he has explored each topic -- and much more -- through both film and digital imagery.

Chapman has traveled throughout America to discover “the cruel radiance of what is,” as Walker Evans phrased it. His photographs have been described as “sardonic but good natured.” America has experienced a daunting number of peaks and valleys in the treatment of its citizenry and the way it represents itself within its own borders. Chapman set out to both befriend and embrace that America through his photographs.

Bill Chapman’s work has been exhibited at The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Gallery Kayafas, Harvard University, The Griffin Museum and many other locations. His images have been published in a wide variety of books, including “Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston,” by Howard Bryant (Beacon Press, 2003), “Negro League Baseball”” by Ernest C. Withers (Harry N. Abrams, 2005), and “Rickwood Field: A Century in America’s Oldest Ballpark,” by Allen Barra (W.W. Norton & Co., 2010). Many publications have also featured Chapman’s images including: The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Preservation Magazine, University of Budapest, Art New England and ESPN Magazine.

Photographs from Chapman’s travels around America, his depiction of Elvis Presley as a fetish commodity, an ongoing project photographing the surviving members of the Negro League and Rickwood Field in Birmingham, AL, and images from Chapman’s association with the Harlem Gospel Choir are all included within this site.