Posing Beauty in African American Culture


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 diverse 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.

The images in this exhibition challenge idealized forms of beauty in art by examining their portrayal and exploring a variety of attitudes about race, class, gender, popular culture and politics as seen through the aesthetics of representation.

This exhibit features approximately 50 works drawn from public and private collections and will be accompanied by a book published by W.W. Norton. Artists in the exhibit include, among others, Carrie Mae Weems, Charles “Teenie” Harris, Gary Winogrand, Renee Cox, Mickalene Thomas and Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe.

This exhibition is on view September 8-Novemeber 4, 2012.

View a panel discussion from the Williams College Museum exhibition, Posing Beauty in African American Culture, held on October 21, 2010.


Companion Events

Posing Beauty College Night
6-9 pm Thursday, October 25






















Posing Beauty in African American Culture
 is curated by Deborah Willis and organized by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions, Pasadena, California.


Sponsored by       Hunt and Diane Harris       Dr. Ralph and Jennifer Saintfort

images: Ken Ramsay, Susan Taylor, as Model, c. 1970s, gelatin silver print
Charles “Teenie” Harris, Mary Louise Harris on Mulford Street, Homewood, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, c. 1930-1939, gelatin silver print



Posing Beauty in African American Culture


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 diverse 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.

The images in this exhibition challenge idealized forms of beauty in art by examining their portrayal and exploring a variety of attitudes about race, class, gender, popular culture and politics as seen through the aesthetics of representation.

This exhibit features approximately 50 works drawn from public and private collections and will be accompanied by a book published by W.W. Norton. Artists in the exhibit include, among others, Carrie Mae Weems, Charles “Teenie” Harris, Gary Winogrand, Renee Cox, Mickalene Thomas and Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe.

This exhibition is on view September 8-Novemeber 4, 2012.

View a panel discussion from the Williams College Museum exhibition, Posing Beauty in African American Culture, held on October 21, 2010.


Companion Events

Posing Beauty College Night
6-9 pm Thursday, October 25






















Posing Beauty in African American Culture
 is curated by Deborah Willis and organized by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions, Pasadena, California.


Sponsored by       Hunt and Diane Harris       Dr. Ralph and Jennifer Saintfort

images: Ken Ramsay, Susan Taylor, as Model, c. 1970s, gelatin silver print
Charles “Teenie” Harris, Mary Louise Harris on Mulford Street, Homewood, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, c. 1930-1939, gelatin silver print