Time to Get Ready: Opening Reception

Maria Varela and Emily Brady open the exhibition, Time to Get Ready: Maria Varela and the Civil Rights Movement.

REGISTRATION REQUIRED: please sign up via Eventbrite.

The exhibition will open at 5pm, with wine and opening remarks at 6pm. It will run at The Barn Gallery, St John’s College (22 St Giles') from Monday 29 April to Saturday 18 May 2024. There will be a public talk with Maria Varela at the Rothermere American Institute on 30 April.

In 1963, Maria Varela travelled to Atlanta, Georgia to join the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee as an office worker. However, within three weeks she was assigned to work in dangerous Selma, Alabama as a literacy program worker.  For the next four and a half years, Varela would work as an educator, organiser, and writer in the deep South. It was not until 1966 that, dissatisfied with representations of Black people in the Movement, Varela would pick up a camera. Through her lens, she captured images of marches, speeches, and protests. But primarily she captured the hard work that went into sustaining the everyday organizing to build the Movement from the bottom up – including voter drives, vegetable co-operatives, and community activism around jobs, education, housing and segregation of public institutions.  From events such as the Meredith March Against Fear, to profiling leaders such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Varela’s photography offers an important perspective on one of the most significant periods of reckoning in American history.

This exhibition is generously supported by: St John’s College, the Rothermere American Institute, Christ Church College, the British Association of American Studies, the Oxford Festival of the Arts, and the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Read more about Maria Varela here.


Children framed by sharp-shooter, by Maria Varela