Image Control: Photography, Fashion and Black Feminine Identity


Join the Cotton Museum on the evening of April 24 at 6:00pm for a lecture with Dr. Earnestine L. Jenkins entitled Image Control: Photography, Fashion, and Black Feminine Identity. Her lecture will be the third installment of our art event and lecture series, Black, White and Beauty: Confronting Race and Feminine Identity in the South. Our series addresses the historic and cultural perceptions of beauty for Black and white women – and how that history continues to influence our lives today. The event is free and open to the public and features a complimentary Museum tour, cocktails and reception.

About the Lecture:
Dr. Earnestine L. Jenkins’ lecture Image Control: Photography, Fashion, and Black Feminine Identity will feature a presentation of late nineteenth century photographs of African American women in Victorian-era Memphis. By examining these photos, Dr. Jenkins reveals the relationships between fashion, photographic and art historical traditions, and the evolving perceptions of racial identity in the South. “Clothing makes definitive statements about social and economic status, occupation, affiliations with other people, and individual expression,” explains Dr. Jenkins. “During slavery the most common photographic image of an African American woman was as a nursemaid to a white child. After the Civil War nearly four and a half million black people gained access to photography and were able to represent themselves in opposition to the stereotypical images created by whites.” Her lecture will show how black women in particular leveraged their newly attained access to photography and newfound power as consumers of fashion to reclaim control of their representation.

About the Lecturer:
An Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Memphis, Dr. Jenkins has critically influenced the documentation of African American History here in Memphis. She has curated and developed exhibits at the Brooks Museum, National Civil Rights Museum and the University of Memphis, and has delivered lectures at
universities across the city. In addition to doing extensive research on African American expressive culture and aesthetics, Dr. Jenkins is the author of Race, Representation and Photography in 19th Jim Crow, and is focusing on a new book titled Photography & the Aesthetics of the “New Negro” Ideology: Picturing African American Communities in Early 20th Century Memphis.

The event will be held at the Cotton Museum (65 Union Avenue) at 6pm on March 17 and is free and open to the public.

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