Beyond Mammy, Jezebel + Sapphire: Reclaiming Images of Black Women

"Delta Doo", Alison Saar. from the Schnitzer Collection
“Delta Doo”, Alison Saar. from the Schnitzer Collection

Beyond Mammy, Jezebel + Sapphire: Reclaiming Images of Black Women

March 28 – May 16, 2017

Closed: April 19 – April 23


Curated from the Schnitzer Collection by IDEA and the Alexandria Museum of Art (Alexandira, Louisiana).

This exhibition features images that examine and interrogate culturally constructed controlling images of Black women. From the suffering mama, to the stoic victim, to the sassy broad – the images presented in the exhibition question and overturn entrenched archetypes of Black femininity.

Engaging a wide range of experiences and artistic practices, the nine artists featured in this exhibition challenge the controlling images of Black women that continue to pervade our culture and influence perceptions. Their artworks jar loose expectations and replace simplistic narratives with nuanced, sophisticated meditations on contemporary identity. Frankly addressing idea such as frailty, sexualized power, and racially bounded ideals of beauty, Reclaiming Images presents us with compelling and nuanced examinations of multiple Black female identities and experiences.

Featured artists:
Romare Howard Bearden, Robert H. Colescott, Ellen Gallagher, Mildred Howard, Wangechi Mutu, Alison Saar, Lorna Simpson, Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker


All events are free and open to the public

Tuesday, March 28, 4:30 – 6pm
Beyond Mammy, Jezebel + Sapphire: Reclaiming Images of Black Women
Opening Reception and Panel Discussion
IDEA Space
Featuring a poetry performance by Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley and a panel discussion with Claudine Taaffe (Senior Lecturer in the African American & Diaspora Studies Program, Vanderbilt University) Heidi Lewis (Professor of Feminist & Gender Studies, Colorado College) and Jessica Lynne (Co-Editor of Arts.Black)

Sha’Condria “Icon” Sibley:  Artist, educator, and poet; founding member of the 2010 and 2012 Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam runner-up, the 2010 National Poetry Slam Group Piece Champion, and a member of the 2012 National Poetry Slam Championship team, Team SNO (Slam New Orleans)

Heidi R. Lewis, PhD: Assistant Professor and Associate Director of Feminist and Gender Studies at Colorado College. She currently serves as the Associate Editor for The Feminist Wire. Her work primarily focuses on Feminist Theory, Critical Race Theory, and Critical Media Studies.

Claudine Taaffe, PhD: Senior Lecturer in African American & Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University. Her research examines the ways in which African American girls, create identity and community through the creative arts.

Jessica Lynne: A Brooklyn-based arts administrator and critic. She contributes to publications such as Art in America, The Art Newspaper, The Brooklyn Rail, Hyperallergic, and Pelican Bomb.  She’s co-editor of ARTS.BLACK, a journal of art criticism from Black perspectives, and a founding editor of Zora Magazine. Currently, Jessica serves as the Manager of Development and Communication at Recess.

Wednesday, March 29, 6 – 7pm
Innovative Minds: Art Criticism for a New Generation: Creating ARTS.BLACK
A Lecture by Jessica Lynne, Co-Editor of ARTS.BLACK
Flex Room, Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center
ARTS.BLACK is a journal of art criticism from Black perspectives predicated on the belief that art criticism should be an accessible dialogue – a tool through which we question, celebrate, and talk back to the global world of contemporary art.
Presented by Innovation at CC

Thursday, March 30, 5:00 – 7:30 pm 
Film Screening: NO! The Rape Documentary + Conversation with Aishah Shihidah Simmons
Location TBD
The film No!: The Rape Documentary will be screened followed by a conversation with filmmaker Aishah Shihidah Simmons.

NO!: The Rape Documentary is the 2006-released Ford-Foundation funded award-winning, internationally acclaimed, groundbreaking feature length film that explores the international atrocity of heterosexual rape and other forms of sexual assault through the first person testimonies, scholarship, spirituality, activism, and cultural work of Black people in the United States. NO! also explores how rape is used as a weapon of homophobia. Along these lines, Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple, says, “If the Black community in the Americas and in the world would save itself, it must complete the work that [NO!] begins.”

Aishah Shahidah Simmons: An award-winning Black feminist lesbian documentary filmmaker, activist, cultural worker, writer, and international lecturer. She is a 2016-2018 Just Beginnings Collaborative Fellow, where she is developing her multimedia project #LoveWITHAccountability, which examines how accountability is a powerful and necessary form of love needed to address child sexual abuse (CSA). Previously, she was the Sterling Brown Professor of Africana Studies at Williams College, an Adjunct Professor in the Women’s and LGBT Studies Program at Temple University, an O’Brien Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department at Scripps College, an Artist-in-Residence at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, and an Artist-in-Residence at Spelman College’s Digital Moving Image Salon. Her essays and articles have been published in several anthologies including the recently released Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti-Violence Movement and Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence. Simmons is also an Associate Editor of The Feminist Wire, and her cultural work and activism have been documented extensively in The Root, Crisis, Forbes, Ms. Magazine, Alternet, ColorLines, NPR, and BET, among others.

Tuesday, May 9, 4:30 – 5:30pm
Black Feminist Theory: Student Research Presentations + Reception
IDEA Space
Students in the Colorado College course Black Feminist Theory have present original research and analysis of the artworks in the exhibition, Reclaiming Images of Black Women, currently on view at IDEA Space.

Tuesday, May 9, 6 – 7pm
Baby Mamas, Beloved, and True Motherhood: Reclaiming Images of Black Women
A lecture by Venetria Patton
Cornerstone Arts Center Film Screening Room
Dr. Patton is Head of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Professor of English and African American Studies, Purdue University.