Street Cops at John Jay College / by Jill Freedman

The John Jay College President’s Gallery, located at 59th Street and 10thAvenue, New York, presents the inaugural show of its Fall 2013 Season, JILL FREEDMAN: STREET COPS curated by art historian Dr. Lisa Farrington of the John Jay Faculty and Independent Curator Beverly Morris; and generously supported by donor John Bergman. The show will be open to the public from September 13th through October 26th, 2012 with an opening reception on Thursday September 13th from 6-8PM.

The vintage photographs in this exhibition are from the famed collection “Street Cops” photographed in the late 1970s by award-winning fine arts and documentary photographer Jill Freedman. A petite powerhouse, Freedman quite literally inserted herself into active crime scenes in order to take these gritty photos at a time when New York City was just as gritty. Freedman prowled the streets of Manhattan with her camera during the age of the ‘70s blackout and subsequent rioting and looting, when New York was allegedly “broke” and drugs, crime, and homelessness were rampant.

Evidently fearless, Freedman documented the activities and personalities of New York’s finest during this epoch. Her images capture a long lost “cop” persona that is very different from the one we are accustomed to today—who identify themselves with the insignia currently painted on NYPD squad cars:  “CPR: Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect”. Freedman’s cops are a different breed. They came of age in the wake of the Knapp Commission and widespread police corruption. Sensitive to the politics surrounding the Commission, they patrolled New York’s toughest neighborhoods during one of its most difficult decades; they knew the names of the folks who lived on their beats and about whom, often paradoxically, they cared.

Featured in JILL FREEDMAN: STREET COPS are 34 vintage silver gelatin prints generously lent by the photographer to dovetail with the theme of “Art for Justice” which is essential to the exhibition schedule of the President’s Gallery and the Anya and Andrew Shiva Art Gallery at John Jay College, as well as to the mission of the College more broadly, “Educating for Justice.”

Jill Freedman is a highly respected New York documentary photographer whose award-winning work is included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, the International Center of Photography, George Eastman House, the Smithsonian Institution, the New York Public Library, and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, among others. Jill Freedman is best known for her NYC street and documentary photography, recalling the work of André Kertész, W. Eugene Smith, Dorothea Lange, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. She has published seven books: Old News, Circus Days, Firehouse, Street Cops, A Time That Was, Jill’s Dogs, and Ireland Ever.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: The President’s Gallery is part of John Jay College of the City University of New York, a non-profit 501(c)(3) institution. The Gallery is free and open to the public. Please stop at the College Security Desk for access. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM unless closed for a special event. For more information, please contact the Co-Curator, Beverly Morris at 917-847-9915 or call the Department of Art & Music at 212-237-8929.