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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755
603.646.2808
hood.museum@dartmouth.edu

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Black Womanhood

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Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body

April 1 through August 10, 2008

Organized by the Hood Museum of Art, this major traveling exhibition examines the historical roots of a charged icon in contemporary art: the black female body. Only through an exploration of the origins of black womanhood's prevalent stereotypes can we begin to shed new light on the powerful revisionism occupying contemporary artists working with these themes today. The exhibition features over one hundred sculptures, prints, postcards, photographs, paintings, textiles, and video installations presenting three separate but intersecting perspectives: the traditional African, the colonial, and the contemporary global. Together they reveal a common preoccupation with themes of ideal beauty, fertility and sexuality, maternity and motherhood, and identities and social roles and enable us to peel back the layers of social, cultural, and political realities that have influenced stereotypes of black womanhood from the nineteenth century to the present. This approach promotes a deeper understanding of the ideologies of race, gender, and sexuality that inform contemporary responses—both the viewers' and the artists'—to images of the black female body. A fully illustrated catalogue published by the Hood Museum of Art and the University of Washington Press accompanies the exhibition. An audio tour narrated by exhibition curator Barbara Thompson, complete with images and already mounted onto iPods, is available free of charge for use in the museum at the Visitor Services Desk.

This exhibition and publication are generously funded by a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Hugh J. Freund '67, P'08; the William B. Jaffe and Evelyn A. Hall Fund; the Leon C. 1927, Charles L. 1955, and Andrew J. 1984 Greenbaum Fund; the Hanson Family Fund; and the William Chase Grant 1919 Memorial Fund.

Press release

Exhibition Panoramas

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Click here for gallery panoramas of Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body

Download the gallery guide:
Outside (pdf)
Inside (pdf)

catalogue cover
Publisher's Weekly on the exhibition catalogue: "This collection of essays is as richly insightful as it is beautifully produced. . . . The originality of the images and interpretations make this catalogue essential to understanding how fully clothed the unclothed body truly is." Click here to read the full review. Click here to order the catalogue from the Hood Museum of Art.

Related Events

11 April, Friday, 4:30 PM
Arthur M. Loew Auditorium
Opening Lecture and Reception
DE/SCRIBING BLACK WOMANHOOD: VISUAL NARRATIVES AND THE AFRICAN BODY
Barbara Thompson, exhibition curator and Curator of African, Oceanic, and Native American Collections

12 April, Saturday, 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Arthur M. Loew Auditorium
SYMPOSIUM

9:00 AM Walk-in registration

9:30 - 9:45 AM Welcome and Opening Remarks
Barbara Thompson, Curator of African, Oceanic, and Native American Collections

9:45 AM - 12:00 PM Critical Discourses of Black Womanhood
STILL EMBATTLED, YET EMBOLDENED: CONTESTING BLACK FEMALE EMBODIMENTS
Deborah K. King, Associate Professor of Sociology, Dartmouth College
BEYOND ORIENTALISM: CONTEMPORARY WOMEN'S ART FROM NORTHERN AFRICA
Cynthia J. Becker, Assistant Professor of Art History, Boston University
BEYOND GENDERCENTRIC INTERPRETATIONS: IN PRAISE OF MOTHER, THE ULTIMATE ARTIST
Oyeronke Oyewumi, Associate Professor of Sociology, Stony Brook University

1:30 - 4:30 PM Artist's Perspectives on Black Womanhood
Joyce Scott, Baltimore
Sokari Douglas Camp, London
Hassan Musa, Domessargues, France
Roundtable discussion to follow.
This symposium is cosponsored by the Hood Museum of Art, the Fannie and Allan Leslie Center for the Humanities at Dartmouth College, and the Allen and Joan Bildner Endowment for Human and Intergroup Relations.

15 April, Tuesday, 12:30 PM
Second-Floor Galleries
Gallery Talk
HERITAGE, IDENTITY, AND THE BODY: WORKS BY JOYCE SCOTT, ALISON SAAR, AND RENEE COX
Phoebe Wolfskill, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Dartmouth College

23 and 30 April, 21 and 28 May
Arthur M. Loew Auditorium
Special Film Series
Presented in conjunction with Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body, the Hood will host a film series by and about black/African women that presents an array of perspectives about black womanhood; each film will be followed by post-screening discussions. See individual listings in this calendar of events for details on each film.

23 April, Wednesday, 6:00 PM
Arthur M. Loew Auditorium
Film
The Life and Times of Sara Baartman, directed by Zola Maseko, South Africa, 1998, English, 53 minutes

26 April, Saturday, 2:00 PM
Introductory Tour of Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body

30 April, Wednesday, 6:00 PM
Arthur M. Loew Auditorium
Films
Becoming a Woman in Okrika, directed by Judith Gleason and Elisa Mereghetti, Niger, English, 27 minutes, and The Desired Number, directed by Ngozi Onwurah, Nigeria, 1995, English subtitles, 28 minutes

7 May, Wednesday, 6:00 PM
Arthur M. Loew Auditorium
Artist Lecture: RENEE COX
Cosponsored with the Allen And Joan Bildner Endowment for Human and Intergroup Relations.

17 May, Saturday, 2:00 PM
Introductory Tour of Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body

20 May, Tuesday, 12:30 PM
Second-Floor Galleries
Lunchtime Gallery Talk
PERFORMING WOMEN: WOMEN AS ARTISTS AND SUBJECTS IN AFRICAN MASKED DANCE
Alexander Bortolot, Visiting Assistant Professor, Dartmouth College

21 May, Wednesday, 6:00 PM
Arthur M. Loew Auditorium
Film
La noire de, directed by Ousmane Sembene, Senegal, 1965, French, 80 minutes

28 May, Wednesday, 6:00 PM
Arthur M. Loew Auditorium
Films
Forbidden Fruit, directed by Sue Maluwa Bruce, Beate Kunath, and Yvonne Zuckmantel, Germany/Zimbabwe, 2000, English subtitles, 30 minutes, and And Still I Rise, directed by Ngozi Onwurah, USA, 1993, English, 30 minutes.

7 June, Saturday, 2:00 PM
Special Introductory Tour of Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body with Exhibition Curator Barbara Thompson, Curator of African, Oceanic, and Native American Collections

*24 June, Tuesday, 12:30 PM
Museum Galleries
Lunchtime Gallery Talk Click here to listen
GIRLHOOD IN AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE
Nazera Wright, Montgomery Fellow, Dartmouth College

*25 June, Wednesday, 4:30 PM
Museum Galleries
Artist Gallery Talk Click here to listen
Zaneli Muholi, South African photographer and new media artist

*27 June, Friday, 4:30 PM
Arthur M. Loew Auditorium
Artist Lecture
Dead eyes! the ugly side of black dolls
Senzeni Marasela, South African photographer and installation artist

28 June, Saturday, 2:00 PM
Introductory Tour of Dressing Up Culture: Molas from Kuna Yala

*8 July, Tuesday, 12:30 PM
Museum Galleries
Lunchtime Gallery Talk
African Remembrances: Black Womanhood in European and Contemporary Diasporic Art
Angela Rosenthal, Associate Professor of Art History, Dartmouth College

12 July, Saturday, 2:00 PM
Introductory Tour of Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body

*16 July, Wednesday, 6:00-8:30 pm
Arthur M. Loew Auditorium
Black Womanhood Film Festival
The Hood presents a special evening featuring three significant films that explore women’s identities and self-image in Africa and its diasporas. Intermission refreshments provided by Tastes of Africa.

"Fantacoca" from Africa, Africas by Agnes Ndibi presents the disturbing cultural phenomenon of skin bleaching in Cameroon and the challenge it poses to notions of black pride and identity (23 min.).

Perfect Image? by Maureen Blackwood exposes stereotypical images if black women and explores women's own ideas of self worth (30 min.).

Black Women On: The Light, Dark Thang by Celeste Crenshaw and Paula Caffey explores the politics of color within the African American community (52 min.).

*25 July, Friday, 4:30 PM
Arthur M. Loew Auditorium
Artist Roundtable Discussion Click here to listen
performing black womanhood: film, photography, and new media arts
Participants will include artists Wangechi Mutu, Ingrid Mwangi, and Berni Searle. Moderated by Rory Bester, independent scholar, South Africa. Performance by Ingrid Mwangi to follow.

29 July, Tuesday, 12:30 PM
Museum Galleries
Lunchtime Gallery Talk
looking through the Colonial lens: Postcards in Black Womanhood
Barbara Thompson, Curator of African, Oceanic, and Native American Collections

2 August, Saturday, 2:00 PM
Introductory Tour of Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body

*8 August, Friday, 4:30 PM
Arthur M. Loew Auditorium
Artist Lecture
EVERYTHING THAT IS PROFOUND LOVES THE MASK: THE FEMALE MASQUERADE TRADITION IN AFRICA
Artist Esiaba Irobi, Associate Professor of International Theatre at Ohio University, Athens

Starred events are co-sponsored by the Fannie and Alan Leslie Center for the Humanities, the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, the 2008 Summer Arts Festival, and the Allen and Joan Bildner Endowment for Human and Intergroup Relations.

Last Updated: 10/27/08