Posing Beauty in African American Culture to Open August 25, 2023

KENT, OH – The Kent State University Museum is proud to announce a special exhibition of over 100 photographs entitled, “Posing Beauty in African American Culture.” The images spanning the 20th and 21st centuries explore the ways in which African and African American beauty has been represented in historical and contemporary contexts through a diverse range of media including photography, video, fashion and advertising.

Included in the exhibition are many renowned artists and photographers including Hank Willis Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, Lyle Ashton Harris and Gordon Parks, among others. "This powerful collection of images engages us in important conversations around beauty and representations of Black and non-Western bodies. The images allow visitors of color to see themselves and then question how others may seem them and how they see themselves," states Director Sarah J Rogers. "Our hope is that the exhibition will continue conversations we began with last year’s exhibition, TEXTURES: the History and Art of Black hair." To that end, the exhibition opens on August 25 at noon with a lecture by Dr. Tameka Ellington, one of the co-curators of the TEXTURES exhibition. Dr. Ellington is a fashion scholar, activist and motivational speaker and her talk is entitled, "The Story of the Body Image of Black Women." The talk is free with admission and free for KSU students and Museum Members.

The exhibition was organized by the Department of Photography and Imaging at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts and curated by Deborah Willis, University Professor and Chair of the Department. The touring exhibition is made possible in part by the J. P. Morgan Chase Foundation and Curatorial Assistance, Inc.

The presentation at the KSU Museum is made possible by the generous support of Linda L. McDonald, Ph.D. and the Ohio Arts Council.


The Kent State University Museum is located at 515 Hilltop Drive, at the corner of East Main Street and South Lincoln Street in Kent, Ohio. It features more than 29,000 pieces in its collection, amassed from many generous donors. The museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon - 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in person at the museum or in advance through the museum’s online ticketing service.

Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for children ages 5 to 17. The museum is free for children under 5 and for those with a Kent State ID. Sunday admission is free for all ages. Parking is free for all museum attendees. Patrons should use the allotted museum spaces in the Rockwell Hall parking lot. For more information, please call 330-672-3450 or visit www.kent.edu/museum.

Images:  (Left) Drama and Flava from Back in the Days, Jamel Shabazz, 2000, Color-coupler print, Courtesy of the artist; (Center) Street Photographer, New York, Russell Lee, 1935-1936, Digital print, Russell Lee Photo Collection, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin; (Right) Chillin' with Liberty, Renee Cox, 1998, Archival digital print, Courtesy of the artist.

POSTED: Monday, July 10, 2023 08:27 AM
Updated: Monday, July 10, 2023 09:45 AM