Entertainment » Fine Arts

Black Womanhood Exhibit Includes Black Lesbian Photographer

by Kay Bourne
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Sep 2, 2008

Black womanhood gets a closer look at a thoughtful exhibit opening at Wellesley College's Davis Museum and Cultural Center on September 17. Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body explores the historical roots and current views of that charged icon in contemporary art - the black female body. She is viewed artistically from three perspectives: traditional African, Western colonial, and contemporary global art.

The show includes work about black lesbian women in Africa by Zanele Muholi, an activist and artist who also has a one woman exhibit opening in Milan pretty much simultaneously with the show at the Davis. Muholi is a photographer, born in Durban who photographs and reports for "Behind The Mask," an online magazine on lesbian and gay issues in Africa. Her work represents the black female body in a frank yet intimate way that challenges the history of the portrayal of black woman's bodies in contemporary photography. She has exhibited previously in the U.S. at UCLA, Los Angeles with a show, "Make Art/STOP AIDS."

The exhibit at the Davis was curated by Barbara Thompson, curator of the African, Oceanic, and Native American Collections at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College where the extensive show originated. The Davis Museum at Wellesley is its second venue, and following its visit through Dec. 14, the show will continue on to the San Diego Museum of Art. Thompson notes that "the exhibition provides the opportunity to raise awareness about the history of stereotypes of black womanhood and the continued impact they have not just on artists today but on all of us living in the global community."

It's not an exhibit you'd likely find in a municipal museum, says the assistant director of curatorial and education at the Davis, Elizabeth Wyckoff. Interviewed by phone, Wyckoff commented that "we can have a show with a fairly scholarly force. The ideas in the show are challenging and more complex than an exhibit of a single artist."

She continues on that theme saying that "at the Davis we want to challenge our audiences which is primarily students. Hopefully the public also wants to join us in a show that inspires discourse and critical thinking."

Wyckoff adds that the Davis has a strong commitment to introduce new scholarship and diversity of viewpoints which is a major intention of the "Black Womanhood" show. A symposium slated for Oct. 18 is one of the many enrichment activities planned to go along with the exhibit, as well as, performance art, a dance ensemble, a film series, and the opening celebration -all of which is open to the public. There is free parking. For more info you can go to the Davis Museum website.


  • lesbianofcolor_com, 2008-09-22 11:45:34

    This is great. Didn’t know lesbians were this visible in Africa. I’ll add that Behind the Mask website to mine at http://www.lesbianofcolor.com

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