Campus Opportunity: Collegiate Fashion & Activism: Black Women’s Styles on the College Campus

As we strive to ensure an inclusive learning environment, consider how opportunities such as this might be used to help your students to further explore diversity. How might these experiences be incorporated into your curriculum?


Collegiate Fashion & Activism: Black Women’s Styles on the College Campus
Exhibition: Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 to April 17, 2020 in the Mary Alice Gallery, 1015 Morrill Hall
Reception: Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, from 5-6:30 p.m. 2019 Morrill Hall


Collegiate fashion and activism flyerThe exhibition analyzes the ways 21st century Black women college students attending predominately white institutions in Iowa express their Black identity, activism, and expressions of empowerment through fashion. The focus is on Black women’s everyday clothing and its connection to Black student empowerment on Iowa college campuses. Counter-story telling was used to make space for Black women’s voices and styles in 21st-century fashion history. Because the museum lacked documented examples of Black women college student’s garments or accessories, the curators developed the exhibition using a community-participatory approach. Fifteen Black women college students, who are currently attending predominately white institutions in Iowa, were recruited to share stories through an in-depth interview about their fashion and style. Then, these same women collectively loaned 40 garments or accessories that they discussed during their interviews, which are on display in the exhibition. The Black women also shared images of themselves during the interview that they felt represented pride in their Black identity, which are incorporated into the exhibition. Through eleven themes, the curators explore the ways Black women represent themselves through everyday fashions in predominately white spaces within the highly turbulent, current social climate. This exhibition focuses on 2013 to the present, as there was a significant increase in activism involvement following the start of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013.


The reception includes a curator talk with graduate student Dyese Matthews and assistant professor Kelly Reddy-Best, both from the apparel, merchandising and design program. The exhibit runs through April 17.