“Style has a profound meaning to Black Americans”
Fashioning The Black Body investigates and explores the ways in which Black artists use fashion, style, and the garment as storytelling devices in their work. Far from the reaches of frivolity–a domain to which fashion is usually relegated–Black people have continually engaged the fashion object beyond its utilitarian functions into a device of “pride, protection, resistance, and camouflage,” as stated by scholar Kimberly Nichele Brown.
As a form of identification, self-actualization, and agency (enhanced or diminished), the selected artists approach the fashion object from various points of its ontogeny: textile, production, construction, utilization, and discardment. In turn, Fashioning the Black Body becomes a dialogue about space; the space between black skin and cloth, the space that exists between the historically commodified and fetishized black body and one’s self-defined identity, and more concretely, the tenuous distances between who we are, who we want to be, and how we are perceived. Through the work of these artists, the fashion object is transubstantiated into a semipermeable membrane between the gaze and the contents it holds.
Featuring artists: Bisa Butler, Soly Cissé, Renee Cox, David Antonio Cruz, Kenturah Davis, Hassan Hajjaj, Basil Kincaid, Mario Moore, Chris Ofili, Fahamu Pecou, Katherine Simóne Reynolds, Jacolby Satterwhite, Stan Squirewell, Mickalene Thomas, Kehinde Wiley