You may know him as the design director of GQ or the art director who made Rolling Stone visually rock, but did you know that AIGA medalist Fred Woodward is also a photographer? His first exhibition of photos is in its final week at one of our favorite photo galleries, Mark Seliger’s 401 Projects in New York City, and tonight at 6 p.m., Woodward will be there to speak about the images he captured 22 years ago. The show, “Going Over Home” (a lyrical morsel plucked from the spiritual “Wayfaring Stranger”) features a series of photos that Woodward took to accompany Nicholas Lemann’s 1986 Atlantic Monthly article “The Origins of the Underclass,” which took him from housing projects on the South Side of Chicago to the small town of Canton, Mississippi (Woodward’s home state).
Revisiting the project was actually a last-minute change of plans. “Driving home one night, I was listening to a discussion on the radio about Barack Obama and religion when I heard it said that maybe part of the problem was simply that many people in this country had never been inside an African-American church,” writes Woodward in the show notes of what prompted him to look back at his contact sheets of Sunday services enlivened by full choirs, electric guitars, and people dancing in the aisles. “They were just mothers and fathers, relatives, and friends—people willing to risk everything for the promise of something a little better in this life for the ones they loved. I felt lucky to know them. It was only six days in my life, but it changed me forever.”