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March 31, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Black Fashion Archive was founded in 2018 by Rikki Byrd to offer a digital repository of Black style and Black contributions to the fashion industry. Rikki will share the trajectory of her visual research, Black cultural impacts on the fashion industry, and how an archival approach informs her work.


ZOOM REGISTRATION: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_69LkL96rTTGK9pqRe6bPLw 



Rikki Byrd is a scholar, writer, educator and curator with research interests in black studies, performance studies, fashion studies and art history. Her master’s thesis at Parsons, Black, the Color We Wear: Representing Blackness in American Fashion, explored how blackness is centered in popular culture and offered a new approach to reimagining dialogue concerning the black body. Since its completion, her research has led her to creating innovative spaces to engage students, scholars and industry professionals in conversations on race and representation.



3831/VOICES is a new program series of conversations and lectures featuring Black artists, scholars, curators, historians, and arts workers that invite our community into their creative practices, research, and conceptual processes, and more! 3831 takes after SSCAC’s exact numerical address in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood. Although we recognize ourselves as an iconic historical site for Black artistic and cultural advancement, we continue to evolve as a contemporary hub for new thought practices, creative practices, and innovative frameworks being developed by a diverse array of amazing folks here in our city, and beyond.


March 31, 2022
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


Works in EMERGENCE are diverse in their subject matter and media, but a few themes reappear throughout. Working in abstraction or in the traditionally peaceful genre of still life, artists like William Carter, Allen Stringfellow, and Jonathan Green express themes of interiority or sociability, history or modernity. Notably, Stringfellow and Ralph Arnold both experimented with media and materials and worked extensively in collage, which allowed them to combine abstract design, figurative imagery, and on occasion political ideas.

Viewers typically expect Black artists to focus on particular aspects of their social and political identities within their work. Where might those expectations come from? Still life, abstraction, and collage may express many different things about artists’ interior lives and their visual and social observation, whether connected to public manifestations of identity or not.

William Carter’s mid-century still life Untitled presents a group of vibrantly colored bottles that invite the viewer’s gaze, set against a similarly colorful background with floral elements like grapes and leaves. They give evidence of conviviality and might be interpreted as symbols of social gatherings, but they could also just be a collection of pleasing forms. We might put Carter’s still life in dialogue with that of Jonathan Green, who became close friends with Carter while living in Chicago. Green’s close-up view of an eloquently simple composition presents oranges, a pear, and a lemon in front of two vessels. Works like this piece call the viewer to examine the objects the artist chose to include, to consider how they interact with each other like bodies in space, and to reflect on their meaning within the traditional genre of still life painting.

Collage might suggest the piecing together of identity from different components that might not usually coexist, giving room for more expansive imaginations of meaning than a straightforward representational image might allow. It could also just be an inventive way of combining colors, shapes, and textures. Allen Stringfellow’s Untitled, a collage from 1962, brings familiar motifs from still life—fruit and flowers, desserts and glassware—together with imagery of artist’s models and performers. Layered with paint and tissue paper that frustrate the viewer’s attempt to get clarity on the subject matter, the bursts of form and colors hint at the splashy abstraction of Stringfellow’s untitled, textured painting made from house paint and particulate on cardboard. Here the artist tests commonly found materials to create new textures and plays with the creation of colors and finishes that diverge from “Western” academic painting methods.

In The Waiting, Arnold constructs a large collage from different paper components, lace, and paint. In the piece, elements of European and African art are placed in dialogue with one another, while some figures appear alone and isolated, others in large groups. Without giving easy answers, Arnold implies questions about social issues. Who is waiting, and for what? In his Love Sign II, which bears the words “Love is Universal,” Arnold asserts the equal validity of all types of romantic affection and love, utilizing collage to convey a more straightforward political message.