Posing Beauty in African American Culture

October 19, 2019 - January 26, 2020

Curated by Deborah Willis, Ph.D., “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. Throughout the Western history of art and image-making, the relationship between beauty and art has become increasingly complex within contemporary art and popular culture.”

To view large images and caption information, click below.

Exhibition-Related Programs and Events

Special Exhibition Tours
Saturdays and Sundays | 2:00 p.m.

The Living Legacy National Speaking Tour: David C. Driskell and Julie L. McGee in Conversation
Saturday, October 19 | 2:00 p.m.
This conversation will highlight Driskell’s contributions as an artist, scholar, and cultural historian and the contributions of African American artists to the country’s artistic heritage. Free with Museum admission.

Performance – Raye Jones Avery & Adagio with Dennis Fortune, Musical Director
Thursday, October 24 | 8:00 p.m.
The cool and controlled voice of Raye Jones Avery brings the lyrics of music to life. Join us for a night with one of Wilmington’s true talents as she performs her original songs as well as R&B, blues, jazz, and Broadway standards. $30 Members, $35 Non-Members, $25 Students.

Picturing Beauty: Celebrating Real Women
Sunday, November 17 | 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m. Keynote with Dr. Deborah Willis & Angela Fraleigh
Join us for a free, intergenerational event featuring successful female leaders in the arts. Don’t miss the featured talk with Posing Beauty curator Dr. Deborah Willis and exhibiting artist Angela Fraleigh. Presented with Girls, Inc., One Village Alliance, YWCA, and the Beauty Shop Project. Picturing Beauty: Celebrating Real Women program is partially funded by a grant from the Delaware Humanities, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Free.

Portrait Photography
Sunday, November 17 | 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Monday, January 20 |  11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

To complement the exhibition Posing Beauty in African American Culture, we are filling a wall of our entryway with portraits of our community members. 100 frames will slowly fill with photographs of locals, to add dimension to the portraits in the special exhibition itself. We’d love to include your  portrait. Register to have your photograph taken by Joe McFetridge on October 24, November 17, or January 20. Participants will receive a digital and print copy once the photographs come off the walls in spring 2020. Free.

Inside Look
Friday, November 22 | Noon
Sunday, November 24 | 2:00 p.m.
Join us for an inside look and in-depth dialogue around a single work of art in our special exhibition, led by University of Delaware Art History graduate student Emily Shartrand. Free.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service
Monday, January 20, 2020 | 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., through art and service in partnership with One Village Alliance and Raising Kings. Free, donations encouraged.

Performance – The Black Iris Project: A Mother’s Rite
Thursday, January 23, 2020 | 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
A Mother’s Rite is a new contemporary ballet that tells a story that has become painfully common; how a Black mother copes with the loss of her child to a racially-motivated murder.” Performance will be followed a panel discussion. This engagement of Black Iris Project is made possible through the Special Presenter Initiatives program of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Delaware Division of the Arts. $20 Members, $25 Non-Members, $10 Students.

Organizer and Sponsors

Posing Beauty in African American Culture is curated by Deborah Willis and organized by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions, Pasadena, California. This exhibition is sponsored by M&T Bank and made possible in Delaware by Mary G. Heiser in memory of her son, Scott T. Heiser, the Johannes R. and Betty P. Krahmer American Art Exhibition Fund, WSFS, and Delmarva. Additional support is provided, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.