Flint Institute of Arts opens ‘Posing Beauty in African American Culture’ exhibition

FLINT, Michigan -- A new exhibit at the Flint Institute of Arts explores the various ways beauty has been captured in African American culture over the years, particularly in the media. Posing Beauty in African American Culture is a visual presentation that challenges society’s understanding of beauty by framing ideas of aesthetics, race, class, and gender within the realms of art, popular culture, and politics.


For Posing Beauty, the work of more than 40 photographers through almost 100 works, from the 19th century to the 21st century, will be on display, offering an interesting historical survey of photography. Within the FIA, the exhibit is split into three sections that showcase different perspectives of African American beauty through a diverse range of media, including photography, music, video, film, and web.


The first section, “Constructing a Pose,” touches on the relationship between a subject and a photographer while the second section, “Body and Image,” examines the way the media has presented the physical attributes of beauty to the masses. The last section, “Modeling Beauty & Beauty Contests,” reflects on how beauty affects the ways we see and interpret the world and ourselves.


The exhibition was curated by Dr. Deborah Willis, Ph.D, a multi-hypenated university professor and contemporary artist, and organized by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions (CATE) of Pasadena, California.


Willis has helped display Posing Beauty in galleries all over the country for over a decade now. She continues to be a driving force in the art world, urging art lovers and observers to take a deeper look into visual images of African Americans being presented on a small and grand scale.


Tracee Glab, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the FIA, hopes that Posing Beauty will be well-received in Flint as it touches on social, historical, and cultural issues.


“We think this exhibition will be an opportunity for a dialogue about how art is used to shape or reflect identity,” said Glab. “We hope the Flint community will engage with the diversity of images in the exhibition and reflect on their own ideas about the representation and meaning of beauty in their lives.”


Posing Beauty in African American Culture will be on display through April 18, 2021.

Read more articles by Tia Scott.