With this year’s theme, “Double Dutch: A Celebration of Black Girlhood” we honor, the diversity and uniqueness of Black Girls, through a multimedia exhibition of Dolls. The pubic is welcome to the Opening Reception on December 8, 3:00-6:00 pm with music by the Marcus Miller Ensemble.
“Double Dutch: A Celebration of Black Girlhood” chosen by the curator, Myshell Tabu, seeks to showcase the many nuances of Black Girlhood, including play, activism, education, the Black experience, and hair. On a deeper level, the show intends to affirm Black women and girls through illustrating the depth, diversity, and dynamism of Black girlhood. Black girls are as innocent as they are strong and as creative as they are challenged.
As a creator, collector, and curator, Myshell Tabu has always been enthralled specifically with handmade dolls. As an educator, her pedagogy incorporates dolls for role-play with students to teach both language and self-expression. Her two daughters, Mma-Syrai and Ella, are also helping to curate the exhibit. The girls have upwards of twenty dolls and are currently learning to make dolls from socks.
About the Black Doll Show at the William Grant Still Arts Center
The Black doll show was inspired by a doll test conducted by Mamie and Kenneth Clark. The tests concluded that due to social stigmas, many black children preferred white dolls over black dolls. This test went on to become evidence in civil rights lawsuits. The Clarks became expert witnesses in Brown vs. Board of education and helped the landmark decision to desegregate schools. This doll test was conducted again in 2006 by 17 year old filmmaker Kiri Davis, sadly with the same results.
Inspired by the doll test, artist/curator Cecil Fergerson started the Black Doll show in the ‘80s. Wanting to change the negative self-image, Fergerson brought together handmade dolls by artists around the country into one exhibit. Through its many transformations, the Black Doll Show has been a celebration of Black dolls from slavery, Jim Crow, freedom marches, music, dance, jazz, hip-hop and more.