Activists and Icons: The Photographs of Steve Schapiro is a Must-See Exhibit

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Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Louisville, Kentucky, 1963

He’s a Legend

Renowned Chicago-based photographer Steve Schapiro has given history a human face throughout his career, contributing images to Life, Look, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and numerous other publications. His prolific output includes portraits of the most influential celebrities of our time, ranging from Muhammad Ali to David Bowie, from Truman Capote to Barbra Streisand – all of whom appear in the exhibition.

What You’ll See

Viewers will experience the breadth of the civil rights movement, as well as vivid portraits of celebrities who challenged – and changed – our cultural norms. The exhibition’s 46 large-format photographs tell the story of seminal moments in history from the March on Washington (1963) to Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign (1968). Schapiro’s documentary approach comprises emotional portraits of heroes ranging from Rosa Parks to a sanitation striker while other images suggest how martyrs become icons.

Why it Matters

The Illinois Holocaust Museum, founded by Holocaust Survivors, is dedicated to giving voice to human experience. Activists and Icons: The Photographs of Steve Schapiro exemplifies the museum’s call to action: “Take History to Heart. Take a Stand for Humanity.” Schapiro’s subjects have done that, as has the photographer, by using his powerful imagery to tell stories through the human face. The exhibition is free with museum admission.