On View Image
Seeking for the Lost Newspaper header image
Seeking for the Lost
August 3, 2024 - February 16, 2025

Seeking for the Lost views the details of often overlooked histories with an artistic lens. Featuring portraiture by contemporary artist Christopher E. Harrison, this exhibition explores the unbreakable familial bonds expressed through ads in the St. Paul newspaper The Appeal; presents the post-Reconstruction goals of Minnesota’s Black press; and shows how literacy informed the lives of Black Americans after the Civil War. 

Organized by the African American Interpretive Center of Minnesota and curated by JoJo Bell, the exhibition elucidates the eponymous “Seeking for the Lost” column from The Appeal, a Black-owned and operated St. Paul newspaper. The column printed ads from those seeking family members who had been sold or “lost” during slavery and through the post-Reconstruction period. Informally, small ads started appearing in the paper in 1888, and in 1891 The Appeal published the ads as a permanent column. The Appeal was not the first paper to print such ads, but in this newspaper the ads were free, signaling its significant commitment to help readers find family at no cost as well as its resolve to uplift a new post-Reconstruction generation desperate to reconnect with loved ones lost to slavery.

Each painting by Christopher Harrison in the exhibition imagines what a missing subject described in “Seeking for the Lost” might have looked like. By portraying each lost family member with a distinct perspective and personality, Harrison’s art emphasizes kinship as a unifying power and literacy as a means of endurance.

Thanks to Minnesota Transform: A Just University for Just Futures for their support of this exhibition.