Publisher Note

White’s journey for Small Towns began in 1989, shortly after he relocated to the area to take a teaching position at Richard Stockton College. From his first visit to Cape May County’s Whitesboro, a community founded by black entrepreneurs in the post-Reconstruction era, White realized there was more to the story. Indeed, what has evolved is the visual product of an artist’s passion for his subject, but he has also added many other ingredients, including interviews, history, and a sense of place. While the story White has unfolded is unique, one finds themes that transcend a specific locale and speak to the experience not only of a people, but of a nation.

Neither stridently documentary nor self-consciously arty, White’s images straddle two worlds. They adopt the cool reserve of certain recent fine art photographers as Lewis Baltz, for example. Yet he is also true to the sincere lens of many of photography’s great documentarians, such as Dorothea Lange or Jacob Riis, who documented the horrid slum conditions in New York’s Lower East Side or Lewis Hine, who took part in the influential Farm Security Administration documentary project from 1937 to 1942. White has produced a body of work that is uniquely personal and profoundly informative. His photographs thoughtfully ask us to look without preconceptions at the history he has uncovered.

“The Small Towns, Black Lives exhibition and catalogue include photographs combined with text and various archival materials. Small Towns, Black Lives is also a multimedia web based presentation that includes photography, text, archival documents, video, and audio materials.
During the summer of 1989, I visited a historically African American settlement known as Whitesboro, New Jersey, where I met Rev. George Thompson of the First Baptist Church. We spent several hours discussing the town and it’s origins. At the time I had not formulated the concept of this exhibition or even a notion that it would become a project that engaged some portion of my attention as an artist for more than 12 years. The exhibition included more than seventy prints as well as the publication of an exhibition catalog and the final version of the website mentioned above.”
- Wendel A. White

Published on the occasion of the 2003 exhibition at The Noyes Museum of Art, Oceanville, New Jersey


Wendel A. White (1956) is an American photographer. He was awarded a BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York and an MFA in photography from the University of Texas at Austin. White taught photography at the School of Visual Arts, NY; The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, NY; the International Center for Photography, NY; Rochester Institute of Technology; and is currently Distinguished Professor of Art at Stockton University.

Exhibition Catalogue

Small Towns, Black Lives

— African American Communities in Southern New Jersey

Wendel A. White

edited by Charles Ashley Stainback

Edition 1st edition
Release Date 2003
Artist: Wendel A. White
ISBN-13: 9780972395106
Subform Photobook
Topics African American, Usa
Methods Photography
Language English
Format hardcover with dust-jacket
Dimensions 29.0 × 26.0 cm