This iconic image was a part of the Wadsworth Museum’s travelling exhibition, Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland in 2015. Accompanying the exhibition was a symposium entitled Coney Island:The Intersection of Art and Identity.

During the panel presentation on Race and Identity at Coney Island, curator Robin Jaffee Frank shared the following commentary:

“As a great chronicler of the extraordinary place, Feinstein’s photographs provide a vital record of its changing demographics over time. In Man with His Daughters at Side-Show a tender family moment is juxtaposed with an eye-catching banner advertising the “Turtle Girl”, an African-American sideshow performer named Alsoria who was born with a peculiar condition.

The body language of the African American father and his daughters conveys the intensity of their bond to one another, and of the unseen gazes of the father and older child who stare at the banner. The family is linked together beautifully by their intertwined arms. The standing child is visually linked to the ‘human oddity’ through the uncanny resemblance of her hat to that of the turtle shell. Her younger sister stares not at the ‘freaks’ being advertised but instead at the viewer.

The photograph explores voyeurism and exhibitionism, and reveals how Coney Island served as a laboratory for social experimentation, addressing issues of class, race, and the relationships between spectators and performers.”