A Symposium for TEXTURES: the history and art of Black hair

Thursday, April 14, 2022 (All day) to Friday, April 15, 2022 (All day)
Kent State University Museum

Call for Presenters: A Symposium for TEXTURES: the history and art of Black hair 

Kent State University Museum
Kent, Ohio
April 14-15, 2022

Deadline for Submission: September 1, 2021

The Kent State University Museum’s exhibition TEXTURES: the history and art of Black hair synthesizes research in history, fashion, art, and visual culture to reassess the “hair story” of peoples of African descent. This exhibition is accompanied by the catalogue TEXTURES: the history and art of Black hair (available now). Long a fraught topic for African Americans and others in the diaspora, Black hair is here addressed by artists, barbers, and activists in both its historical perceptions and its ramifications for self and society today. This symposium surrounds these histories and intends to convene individuals from a variety of backgrounds, artistic, academic and beyond to discuss, engage, and celebrate ideas pertaining to Black history, hair, beauty, and culture. Cultivating new knowledge through consideration of topics related to the themes of the exhibition which include but are not limited to:

  • The history of barbershop and salon culture within Black communities
  • Entrepreneurial and economic autonomy of beauty salons and barbershops
  • The articulation of masculinity within barbershop culture
  • The articulation of femininity within hair salon culture
  • The evolution of Black hair within advertisements and retail settings
  • Hair in the context of individual or social identity 
  • Cultural/intraracial prejudice and assimilation
  • Hair as a symbol of resistance
  • Media and the power of representation 
  • Blackness on the Internet, such as “Black Twitter”; #BlackGirlMagic, #BlackJoy, and virtual representation
  • Hair and Beauty emotional and physical trauma
  • Cultural standards and expectations of aesthetic appearance (Black Hair, Beauty, and Fashion) 


Submissions for presentations can be made via this online submission portal, requiring  contact information, a brief bio, and relevant information pertaining to proposed presentation including: title and topic, short abstract of presentation proposal, and A/V requirements. 

It is the responsibility of each presenter/attendee to cover the costs of their own travel/lodging and the symposium organizers are not able to offer financial assistance. However, we will be able to offer free admission to the TEXTURES exhibition to all attendees, and a complimentary catalogue to all presenters.

The keynote speaker for this symposium will be announced in fall 2021. For more information, please contact the symposium coordinator at junder18@kent.edu

This Call for Presenters (PDF) is also available for download.

Image credit: Lorna Simpson, Square Deal, 1990, 8 dye diffusion color Polaroid prints, 1 engraved plastic plaque (Edition 1 of 3), Photos: 23.6 × 19.7 in. (60 × 50 cm), Plaque: 8 × 8 in. (20.3 × 20.3 cm) Private Collection. Photo: © Artist, courtesy of the Artist and Hauser & Wirth.