POSING BEAUTY in African American Culture explores the contested ways in which African and African American beauty have been represented in historical and contemporary contexts through a diverse range of media including photography, film, video, fashion, advertising, and other forms of popular culture such as music and the Internet.
POSING BEAUTY explores the contested ways in which African and African-American beauty have been represented in historical and contemporary contexts through a diverse range of media, including photography, film, video, fashion, advertising, and other forms of popular culture such as music and the Internet.
Although exhibited in museums throughout the United States, POSING BEAUTY has yet to be presented internationally. The Mona Bismarck American Center is an ideal venue for its debut outside of the United States because Paris is a remarkably culturally diverse city, home to a significant population of residents with African heritage and backgrounds. Furthermore, the intellectual exchange between Paris and the United States on the question of African and African-American representation in photography has a strong historical precedence, dating back to an exhibition of the images compiled by W. E. B. Du Bois for the 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris, an important milestone represented in the POSING BEAUTY exhibition.
POSING BEAUTY in African American Culture is curated by Deborah Willis, PhD, and organized by the Department of Photography and Imaging in the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. The traveling exhibition is managed by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions.
The unique programming for the exhibition in Paris is curated by Raina Lampkins-Fielder, Artistic Director, Mona Bismarck American Center.
Deborah Willis, PhD is an artist, writer and teacher who lives in New York City. She is University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and has an affiliated appointment with the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Social & Cultural, Africana Studies, where she teaches courses on Photography & Imaging, iconicity, and cultural histories visualizing the black body, women, and gender. Her research examines photography’s multifaceted histories, visual culture, the photographic history of Slavery and Emancipation; contemporary women photographers and beauty. She received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and was a Richard D. Cohen Fellow in African and African American Art, Hutchins Center, Harvard University; a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, and an Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. Fellow. She has pursued a dual professional career as an art photographer and as one of the nation’s leading historians of African American photography and curator of African American culture. Exhibitions of her art work include: A Sense of Place, Frick, University of Pittsburgh; Regarding Beauty, University of Wisconsin, Interventions in Printmaking: Three Generations of African-American Women, Allentown Museum of Art; A Family Affair, University of South Florida; I am Going to Eatonville, Zora Neale Hurston Museum; Afrique: See you, see me; Progeny: Deborah Willis + Hank Willis Thomas, Gantt Center.
Susan Taylor, as Model, c.1970s
© Ken Ramsay