For over 40 years Charles “Teenie” Harris documented life in and around Pittsburgh’s Hill District for the influential black newspaper the Pittsburgh Courier. Affectionately called “One Shot” due to the brisk manner in which he photographed his subjects, Harris spent as much time shooting the everyday people of the neighborhood as he did the famous people who visited it. With close to 80,000 negatives in his archive, he is said to have best captured the urban African-American experience during the 20th century.
The Carnegie Museum of Art acquired Harris’s archive in 2001 and set out preserving, cataloguing and digitizing the images. The museum is currently exhibiting the first major retrospective of his work, “Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story.” The exhibit includes a life-size projection of close to 1,000 of Harris’s images set to an original jazz score; a chronological display featuring small prints of those same images; and a mini-exhibit of 12 16 x 20-inch prints selected by various experts. The exhibit will stay in Pittsburgh through April 7 and then move on to the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library.