Photographic Archivist Stephen Fletcher said the Sounds Stilled: Musical Photographs exhibit features photographs by Don Sturkey, a photographer for The Charlotte Observer from the 1950s to the late 1980s.
“The exhibit is drawn from a larger collection of work by Don Sturkey,” Fletcher said.
“It’s probably the strongest collection of photographs dealing with Charlotte that we have.”
The exhibit displays examples of Sturkey’s photographs that feature either musical concerts, interviews of musicians or people listening to music on the streets, Fletcher said. It’s one of several photojournalism collections the library has, he said.
Fletcher said the collection is predominantly chronological.
On the left of the exhibit are photographs of Elvis Presley’s two visits to Charlotte. It then moves to some of the early rock ’n’ roll concerts in Charlotte, to fiddle conventions and onto jazz concerts, Fletcher said. He said he hopes music is still popular with students.
“I want students to see what it was like to go to a concert back in the 50s or 60s,” he said. “How musicians interacted with each other or things with what the audiences did.”
Emily Jack, the digital projects and outreach librarian for the North Carolina Collection Gallery, said there is a touch-screen kiosk where students can come in and listen to the music from some of the artists exhibited in the collection.
Senior John Reynolds, a student assistant at the gallery, said he thinks, as a student, the exhibit is cool.
“By looking at the pictures you can relate it to what we see now,” he said.
Reynolds said students can look at photographs of artists their parents might have listened to and compare them to current concerts to see what was popular in that era.
“People interested in photography will get to see good photography,” Fletcher said.
Students studying photojournalism can look at the photographs to use them for research and students looking into historical research can use this exhibit because it covers political and social events, Fletcher said.
“The early concerts were segregated and you can see that in some of the photographs,” he said.
Back then, African-Americans had to sit in balconies while sometimes it was flipped and the white people sat on top, Fletcher said.
Besides photographs, the exhibit displays records from the artists and two of Don Sturkey’s books, Fletcher said. The books told stories of the Charlotte region over time and the story of Sturkey’s career.
Jack said she hopes people who attend will learn something new.
“I hope that the students that come into the exhibit will discover some new artists they might not have known before,” she said.