This exhibition combines pieces from the permanent collection at The Colored Girls Museum with newly curated works. The guided tour, led by curator Michael Clemmons, is an invaluable introduction to an extremely diverse collection, which includes tapestry, doll-making, stained glass sculptures, painting, wood burning, installation, dress-making, photography, and more. The unifying question for the museum: why would the “ordinary, extraordinary colored girl” care about this?
A garment, made by Callie J. Roche, features three white summer dresses conjoined at the skirts. The dress itself hangs on the second floor above a bed, while a photo series of three women—the artist and her roommates—wearing the piece hangs on walls throughout the museum. An exploration of “radical platonic love,” the dress requires not only coordination, but communication, sacrifice, and support—particularly necessary, explains Clemmons, to the colored girl.
One striking image is Sitting Pretty, a mixed-media piece by Lavette Ballard hanging in the reception hall. An old, black and white photo of a young African American girl in a white dress is wheatpasted onto a canvas made of weathered wooden slats, recalling a crumbling fence, or perhaps a table. A red substance, dried, drips down the image; many other images are superimposed on it as well, including most prominently a magazine cut-out of a woman’s eyes over the girl’s. The eyebrows arch, the eyes pierce; the girl’s lips, curved in a slight smile, when combined with these eyes, create an arresting gaze. Is the girl herself lost to us or transformed, mature beyond her age?
[The Colored Girls Museum, Newhall + Apsley Streets] September 8-23, 2017, fringearts.com/event/urgent-care-social-care-experience.