A Photographer Retraces the Underground Railroad’s Secret Routes


Midwestern artist Jeanine Michna-Bales’ modern-day photograph series, Through Darkness to Light, results from 14 years of research and 1,400 miles of travel alongside former routes of the Underground Railroad.

A Photographer Retraces the Underground Railroad’s Secret Routes 1

The subjects of Jeanine Michna-Bales’ ultra-modern pix collection, Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad, are hard to distinguish. The forests, homes, barns, rivers, and fields captured in those images are shrouded in darkness, lit simplest via the moon and stars. Presenting these topics obscured by nighttime may appear antithetical to the artist’s express aim in this mission, providing a visible account of the Underground Railroad, about which lots have been written but little has been visually documented.

Yet it’s miles exactly by using a manner of darkness that Michna-Bales invitations us to imagine the lived experiences of the estimated a hundred 000 enslaved folks who navigated the Underground Railroad’s network of secret routes and safe homes throughout the mid-nineteenth century. By deploying darkness in every one of her photos, she tiers a reckoning with real and imagined Underground Railroad websites while also calling attention to how critical Black geographies are frequently eclipsed from view.

A one-room showcase on the Philips Collection in Washington, DC capabilities 13 photos that recreate one direction of the break out from Louisiana to Ontario, Canada. Michna-Bales pieced this direction using historical statistics, slave narratives, instructional scholarship, and oral histories. , During her youth, the Indiana local learned about the Underground Railroad as part of her formal education and encountered routes that ran throughout backyards within the Midwest. However, this slim, hanging show represents the handiest quick glimpse into the more than a hundred images the artist shot as part of this photograph collection…

The collection, a product of 14 years of research and over 1 four hundred miles traversed by using Michna-Bales herself represents an attempt to recollect the Underground Railroad’s adventure from the attitude of those who walked it for a threat at freedom. As such, none of the photos include people. Instead, the frames stand replete with dense, heavy atmospheres and various gradations of blackness that evoke the midnight conditions via which enslaved humans surpassed and the continuing risks they confronted.

Dean Hart
the authorDean Hart
I am a fashion and beauty blogger on, and I love sharing beauty tips, fashion trends, and lifestyle inspirations on the site.