Textures synthesizes research in history, fashion, art, and visual culture to reassess the “hair story” of peoples of African descent. 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. Combs, products, and implements from the collection of hair pioneer Willie Morrow are paired here with masterworks from artists including James Van Der Zee, Sonya Clark, Lorna Simpson, Mary Sibande and Zanele Muholi. Exploring topics such as the preferential treatment of straight hair, the social hierarchies of skin, and the power and politics of display, TEXTURES is a landmark exploration of Black hair and its important, complicated place in the history of African American life and culture. The exhibition is organized by the KSU Museum with co-curators, Joseph L. Underwood, assistant professor of art history at KSU and Tameka Ellington, associate professor at the School of Fashion at KSU. “Textures: The History and Art of Black Hair” is on view in Kent State UniversityMuseum until August 14th, 2022.
The qipao (or cheongsam) is one of the most symbolic garments of Chinese fashion. Although some earlier examples survive, the qipao denotes the glamorous style of “Old Shanghai” in the 1910s–30s. During the Republican era, it became a tool of resistance that allowed women to negotiate with institutional repression through their sartorial practices. And, throughout its history, it has indexed shifts in the balance of power between China and the United States, at times perhaps even mediating relations between the two countries. This reading list offers five perspectives on the qipao historically and aims to show why this style is still relevant to our contemporary sensibilities. Compiled by FRD Researcher, Laura Beltrán-Rubio.