Posing Beauty: African-American Images from the 1890s to the Present


    NEWARK:  Posing Beauty: African-American Images from the 1890s to the Present, a photography exhibition that explores the ways in which African and African-American beauty has been represented in the media historically and in contemporary times, opens at the Newark Museum on February 2 and runs through April 28, 2011.

    Curated by Deborah Willis, Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at New York University , Tisch School of the Arts, the exhibition explores contemporary notions of beauty, by framing them within the contexts of art, history, popular culture and the political.  Posing Beauty considers the idealization of beauty in Western art and image-making, through photography, video, fashion and advertising. This exhibition challenges the relationship between beauty and art by examining the representation of beauty as a racialized act fraught with meanings and attitudes about class, gender, and aesthetics.
    More than 80 works drawn from public and private collections are featured in Posing Beauty.  Artists in the exhibition include Carrie Mae Weems, Eve Arnold, Sheila Pree Bright, Garry Winograd, Bruce Davidson, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Mickalene Thomas and Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, among others.  A companion book by Deborah Willis is published by W.W. Norton.
    The exhibition is presented in three thematic sections: the first, “Constructing a Pose,” looks at the interplay between subject and photographer; the second, focuses on “Body & Image” and questions our current understanding of beauty and how it has been interpreted through the body, and finally “Modeling Beauty and Beauty Contests,” offers a reflection on the ambiguity of beauty, its impact on the individual and mass culture, and how it shapes the way we see the world and ourselves.
    The Newark Museum will offer tours, activities and events during the run of Posing Beauty.  Additionally, as a complement to the Posing Beauty exhibition, the Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series will explore the evolution in the concepts of black beauty during its 31st annual conference, Beauty and the Black Body: History, Aesthetics, and Politics,” Saturday February 19, 2011, from 9:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the Rutgers-Newark campus.  Deborah Willis, curator of the Posing Beauty exhibition, will be the keynote speaker.
    The Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series, New Jersey ’s largest and most prestigious Black History Month conference is presented by the Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience and the New Jersey Historical Commission at the Paul Robeson Campus Center and is free and open to the public. Following the conference, MTW guests will be invited to a special reception at The Newark Museum beginning at 4 p.m. to view the Posing Beauty exhibit.  For more information about this lecture, visit http://ethnicity.rutgers.edu.
    Major support for the Newark Museum presentation of Posing Beauty is provided by Johnson & Johnson.  Following the conclusion of the exhibition at the Newark Museum, Posing Beauty travels to USC Fisher Museum of Art in Los Angeles, CA from September 3 through December 4, 2011, and then to Everhart Museum in Scranton, PA from February 2, 2012 to April 1, 2012.
    The touring exhibition is made possible in part by the J. P. Morgan Chase Foundation and Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions. Additional support has been provided by grants from the Tisch School of the Arts Office of the Dean’s Faculty Development Fund, Visual Arts Initiative Award from the NYU Coordinating Council for Visual Arts, and NYU’s Advanced Media Studio.

    The Newark Museum is located at 49 Washington Street in the Downtown/Arts District of Newark, New Jersey, just 3 blocks from NJPAC and 10 miles west of New York City . The Museum is open all year round: Wednesdays through Fridays, from Noon – 5:00 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., October 1 – June 30; and Saturdays and Sundays, from Noon – 5:00 p.m., July 1 – September 30. Suggested Museum admission: Adults, $10.00; Children, Seniors and Students with valid I.D., $6.00. Members are admitted free. The Museum Café is open for lunches Wednesday through Sunday. Convenient parking is available for a fee. The Newark Museum campus is wheelchair accessible. For general information, call 973-596-6550 or visit our web site, http://www.NewarkMuseum.org.
    The Newark Museum, a not-for-profit museum of art, science and education, receives operating support from the City of Newark; the State of New Jersey; the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; the New Jersey Cultural Trust; and corporate, foundation and individual donors. Funds for acquisitions and activities other than operations are provided by members and other contributors.

The Newark Museum is just a few steps from the new NJTransit Light Rail Washington Park Station. Direct connection with the Light Rail at the Broad Street Station and through Penn Station makes the Museum a convenient ride from all points in the region.



    Allison McCartney
    Public Relations Manager
    Newark Museum          
    Phone: (973) 596-6638
    e-mail: amccartney@newarkmuseum.org
    Jerry Enis
    Herbert George Associates, LLC
    Phone: 732-446-5400
    e-mail: jerry@herbertgeorge.com