Thursday, October 02, 2008

“Black Womanhood” at Davis Museum

From my review of “Black Womanhood: Images, Icons and Ideologies of the African Body”:
“Black Womanhood,” the exhibit at Wellesley College’s Davis Museum and Cultural Center, must have seemed like a sharp idea when it was being put together. It examines the ways in which “contemporary artists are challenging historic and often stereotypical images that present black women as the alluringly beautiful Other, the erotic fantasy, or the super-maternal mammy.” By now this is familiar, if still urgent, stuff; what makes this outing special is that it gathers more than 100 objects — traditional African art, Western colonial photos and postcards, and contemporary art — that connect today’s dissectors with the origins of the ugly stereotypes they’re working to take apart.

Barbara Thompson, who organized the show for Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum of Art in New Hampshire, does a good job of mapping the territory. But it’s an uneven show with a dour vision that leaves a mediciny taste in your mouth — and, I think, offers signs of a generation gap among curators.
Read the rest here.

“Black Womanhood: Images, Icons and Ideologies of the African Body,” Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, 106 Central St.., Wellesley, Massachusetts, Sept. 17 to Dec. 14, 2008.

Pictured: Wangechi Mutu, “Double Fuse,” 2003, courtesy of Hood Museum of Art.


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