Storytelling and the Social Landscape through the Photographic Lens An Exhibition of Artwork

This is an exhibition of photos created during the CarverMuseumATX virtual photography class for adults, "Storytelling and the Social Landscape through the Photographic Lens", that took place March 17-April 7, 2021.

2021 seemed a significant year for the Carver Museum's education department to offer an art course inviting community members to create images that reflect thoughts and experiences during this past year. The variety of work that was created during this class spans experiences from living alone during COVID to social justice issues surrounding race and gender.

Artists: Holly Charles-Pearson, Stephanie Lozano, Faith Weaver, Frances Cava Humphrey.

Course taught by Nicole Parker, Culture and Arts Instructor, CarverMuseumATX.

Please click on an image to view separately.


The Flock Could Not Be Weak

90's Hip Hop anthem The Choice is Yours inspired this series' title with the rambunctious party lyrics, "Even if we wanted to, the flock could not be weak". The group's name (Black Sheep), the song's title and its 1991 release were eerily relevant to the premise of this body of work. In 1991, while Black America was bopping happily to The Choice is Yours, it was also reeling from the video footage of Rodney King being beaten nearly to death by LAPD. The subsequent Rodney King Trial and its devastating outcome were proof of this country's disease - racial bias and discrimination.

30 years later, America suffers the same affliction. And, the song's intro, echoing "this or that, this or that, this or that" still haunts the African American man. The photos in this series are placed side by side to highlight how one man can be seen as (this) a healer or (that) a hoodlum, (this) a keeper of one's safety or (that) a threat to it. The series juxtaposes who the subject is and who he is proposed to be, all while expressing the danger of presumption. The constant judgement and misconception of Black men keeps them atop the ancient auction blocks at Jamestown, while strangers continue to decide their value and their fate. Even if they wanted to, the flock could not be weak.

Save or Waste
Looking to the FUTURE is bleak
Top or Bottom of the Stack
Who's the black sheep? What's the black sheep?


This collection of photographs was assembled from personal family experiences and extraordinary moments of reflection within and throughout the one year of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affected our community. I think we will look back upon these moments and remember just when we knew that life as we know it was changing. Familiar places suddenly ceased to be, children and families ceased to play, as our lives were overcome with looming fears of health, death, and darkness.

Families and communities have experienced a profound change, sacrifice, and awareness that has left a mark upon all of us. Still, among the feeling of isolation, separation, and despair, was the quiet, everlasting knowledge and confidence that hope is always around the corner.

Socially Distanced Carnival
Miss You


I am Educator Coordinator at the Carver and facilitated our former Smile b&w photography class for years. This is my first-time being a part of a photography class at the Carver! It’s kind of fitting that all of my photo selections are in black and white. They feature my Amber kitty in my work-from-home environment, flowers I gifted myself (I love roses), and pictures that I captured on my drives that have become outings, especially during this time. I hope you enjoy them.

What We Eating Today?
Behind the Wheel
Where Does the Path Lead?
Floating Wall
Illuminated Flowers


Through this class and this project, I wanted to try to tell a personal story of my quarantine and isolation, as well as my reactions to anti-Asian violence that has recently been widely talked about, but I know too well. Everyone has their own coping mechanisms for dealing with the monotony of quarantine, mine being any form of escapism and daydreaming. Taking road trips and imagining myself in different dreamlike landscapes made feeling alone feel exciting and refreshing – and I wanted to create the landscapes I dreamed up in my photos. I also wanted to make photos that told a story of my identity, amongst the violence and hatred being cast upon many Asian Americans, especially right now. This sentiment was not new to me, though, and I wanted to show that in two of my collages. The disappearance of fully-fleshed figures into landscapes or jungles – like an identity being reduced to only one feature, or completely overlooked and tokenized. Even though my photos have different contexts, they all come together as surreal, pieced together images.

Collage 1
Collage 2
Escapism 1
Escapism 2
Escapism 3

Course Overview: a virtual classroom, intermediate photography course for adults 18+. Through photography, participants created a series of images that represent a social issue which they wished to question, communicate, critique, or explore. Projects in progress were shared and discussed weekly among participants via screen sharing. Class time included introductions to Black artists who are considered social documentary photographers as well as lighting and compositional approaches to improving photography skills.

About the instructor: Nicole Parker is a mixed media artist and arts educator. She received her BFA from Wayne State University, Detroit, in 1995, and her MFA from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2002. In Detroit, Nicole was Assistant Professor and Gallery Director at Marygrove College as well as Co-founder and Director of Development of the 555 Nonprofit Gallery and Studios. In Austin, Nicole has volunteered for local arts organizations, assisted and consulted on grant writing for local nonprofits and the Norwest Gallery of Art in Detroit, co-owns and curates a mobile art gallery, and is the Culture and Arts Instructor at The George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center.

With 18 years of experience as a professional artist, Nicole is passionate about the importance of the arts in creating community, and in education as a vehicle for inclusivity, support for multiple learning styles, and for social justice. She has led workshops on Antique Photo Processes for Classroom Use at a Michigan Association of Art Educators Conference and Marygrove College’s Institute for Arts Infused Education Annual Summer Intensive, was a panelist for professional development workshops for artists organized by the College Art Association, in collaboration with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and presented papers on Creative Thinking and Culture as Agents of Change in the Urban Landscape at San Diego State’s Association for Integrative Studies Conference, "Interdisciplinary Approaches to Ethics and Sustainability" and during Marygrove College’s 10th Annual Academic Symposium, “Re-imaging Communities”.

Nicole is an artist who uses the camera as one of her tools. A mixed-media artist, photographic portraits make up the base of her work. She has taught digital and traditional photography classes to college students and has taught fabric dyeing, sculpture using recycled materials, and mixed media collage to youth at the Carver.

Created By
Nicole Parker