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Arts & Entertainment

‘Signs of the Times’ Documents Two Decades of Protesting in Dallas

Danny Hurley has spent decades viewing protests through his camera lens. For the next two months, you can see his work at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library.
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After school shootings, students took to the streets in downtown Dallas to ask for more gun violence legislation. Courtesy Danny Hurley

Danny Hurley has been photographing protests and marches for decades. This weekend, he will debut an exhibit at the downtown library that features 20 years of photos centered on peaceful social protests he has captured on the streets of Dallas.

His work will be on the walls of the Lillian Bradshaw Gallery inside the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library. The “Signs of Our Times” exhibit tells the stories of marches and protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. It follows marches calling for legislators to protect Roe v. Wade and pass legislation to curb gun violence.

Dallas photographer Danny Hurley captured images from decades of protests, including the marches after George Floyd’s killing in 2020

The morning after violence and rioting broke out during a protest following Floyd’s killing, Hurley spent time documenting the work of Dallas artists who arrived to paint murals on the boarded-up storefronts downtown and in Deep Ellum. His photos of those murals in the days after, which we wrote about in 2020, will also be part of the exhibit.

Hurley says that while the causes vary, the way the protests come together has become more sophisticated since he started photographing them.

“They’ve gotten more organized, especially with social media,” he says. “When I started shooting them, there was no social media. I started shooting on film, and now it’s all digital, too.”

The Dallas native has taught photography and design at Dallas College, the University of Texas at Dallas,  Texas A&M Commerce, and Collin College. He currently heads the photography and design department at The Winston School. He says he’s often struck by how the crowds at the protests have changed. More women are in attendance. He sees more allies—people not directly impacted by the issue being protested—in the crowds.

“I think the signs have improved quite a bit, too—which is why the exhibit is called ‘Signs of Our Times,’” he says. “They’ve gotten very clever. To me, it’s one of the strongest things—the signs, and how they’re using them.”

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In 2020, Dallas women marched in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Courtesy Danny Hurley

Hurley says he hopes his photography ensures that the messages from these protests live on. He wants people to see that “protests work.”

“I really just want to celebrate America’s freedom to assemble and express distrust in our government and to do it freely without being attacked,” he says.

Hurley says he often offers the organizers of the marches his photos for free. That same spirit led him to organize the exhibit at the Bradshaw Gallery, where the public could see it without having to pay. He had been shopping for a place to display the photos for a couple of years, he says, before he saw an exhibit on display at the library’s gallery.

“I thought, ‘Boy, I’d like to have a space here,’ for several reasons,” he says. “One is that it’s not a traditional gallery space…I can hang it here for free, and I can have it up for two months. I’m also a huge fan of the library. It’s somewhere people can come and feel safe, and it’s free and open to the public, so there’s no price for admission.”

“Signs of Our Times” will be up from January 6 through February 29 at the Lillian Bradshaw Gallery on the fourth floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library. The opening is from noon to 4 p.m. January 6.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson

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Bethany Erickson is the senior digital editor for D Magazine. She's written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.
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