Self-Fashioning and Refashioning

Sartorial Practices

Mary Hicks


Lilia Moritz Schwarcz

The palimpsests in this room explore the importance of cloth in Black women’s self-fashioning practices during and after the slaveholding era. If the other rooms in this exhibit address negative visual idioms of enslavement and their subversions, here we give space to fashion—both its creation and sartorial style. Through cloth artfully wrapped around their bodies or bundled atop their heads, Black women have long told their own stories and controlled their own appearances, directing the gaze of white observers, who, nevertheless, sought to exoticize them.

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