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Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body

Group show at Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, San Diego Museum of Art. 2008
Date: 1 April, 2008 until 10 August, 2008
Curator: Barbara Thompson
Organiser: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

Major exhibition Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body, originated by Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire and exhibited there April 1 - August 10, 2008 before touring to venues in Wellesley, Massachusetts and San Diego, California.

The exhibition was curated by Barbara Thompson, curator of African, Oceanic, and Native American Collections at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, and featured contributions by the following artists: Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Renée Cox, Sokari Douglas Camp, Angéle Etoundi Essamba, Lalla Assia Essaydi, Emile Guebehi, Senzeni Marasela, Nandipha Mntambo, Zanele Muholi, Hassan Musa, Wangechi Mutu, Ingrid Mwangi/Robert Hutter - IngridMwangiRobertHutter Collective, Magdalene Odundo, Etiyé Dimma Poulsen, Alison Saar, Joyce J. Scott, Berni Searle, Fazal Sheikh, Malick Sidibé, Penny Siopsis, Maud Sulter, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, and Carla Williams.

From the flyleaf of the substantial exhibition catalogue (edited by Barbara Thompson):

“Explorations of contemporary art have focused on issues of identity and race for some time. Few, however, have sought to investigate these themes by juxtaposing historical and contemporary frameworks. Black Womanhood examines an especially charged icon - the black female body - and contemporary artists’ interventions upon historical images of black women as exotic Others, erotic fantasies, and super-maternal Mammies.

This book presents icons of the black female body as seen from three separate but intersecting perspectives: the traditional African, the colonial, and the contemporary global. The display and contemplation of such iconic images addresses complex and often competing forces of self-presentation and the representation of others. Peeling back layers of social, cultural, and political realities, Black Womanhood explores how historic icons inform contemporary artistic responses to the black female body through an examination of themes such as beauty, fertility and sexuality, maternity, and women’s roles and power in society.

Contributing editor Barbara Thompson, curator of African, Oceanic, and Native American Collections at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College has compiled more than two hundred historical and contemporary images to accompany written contributions by artists, curators and scholars, including Ifi Amadiume, Ayo Abietou Coly, Christraud Geary, Enid Schildkrout, Kimberly Wallace-Sanders, Carla Williams, and Deborah Willis. This compelling volume makes a valuable contribution to ongoing discussions of race, gender, and sexuality by promoting a deeper understanding of past and present readings of black womanhood, both in Africa and in the West.”

In addition to the writers mentioned above, the catalogue included a text by Barbara Thompson.

Related items

People in this exhibition - view 5

»  Ifi Amadiume

Born, 1947

»  Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons

Born, 1959 in Matanzas, Cuba

»  Renée Cox

Born, 1960 in Colgate, Jamaica

»  Sokari Douglas Camp CBE

Born, 1958 in Buguma, Nigeria

»  Angéle Etoundi Essamba

Born, 1962 in Douala, Cameroon

»  Lalla Assia Essaydi

Born, 1965 in Morocco

»  Emile Guebehi

Born, 1937 in Côte d’Ivoire

»  Robert Hutter

Born, 1964 in Germany

»  Senzeni Marasela

Born, 1977 in South Africa

»  Nandipha Mntambo

Born, 1982 in Pretoria, South Africa

»  Zanele Muholi

Born, 1972 in Durban, South Africa

»  Hassan Musa

Born, 1951 in Sudan

»  Wangechi Mutu

Born, 1972 in Nairobi, Kenya

»  Ingrid Mwangi

Born, 1975 in Kenya

»  Magdalene Odundo

Born, 1950 in Nairobi, Kenya

»  Etiyé Dimma Poulsen

Born, 1968 in Ethiopia

»  Alison Saar

Born, 1956 in Los Angeles, California, USA

»  Joyce J. Scott

Born, 1948 in Baltimore, Maryland

»  Berni Searle

Born, 1964 in Cape Town, South Africa

»  Fazal Sheikh

Born, 1965 in New York City, New York, USA

»  Malick Sidibé

Born, 1934 - 1936 (probably 1935) in Mali

»  Penny Siopsis

Born, 1953 in Vryburg, South Africa

»  Maud Sulter

Born, 1960 in Glasgow, Scotland. Died, 2008

»  Barbara Thompson

Born, 1960

»  Kara Walker

Born, 1969 in Stockton, California

»  Carrie Mae Weems

Born, 1953 in Portland, Oregon

»  Carla Williams

Born, 1965 in Los Angeles, California, USA

»  Deborah Willis

Born, 1948 in Philadelphia, USA

Exhibition venues

»  Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College

Wellesley, Massachusetts, United States of America

»  Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College

Hanover, New Hampshire, United States of America

»  San Diego Museum of Art

San Diego, California, United States of America