Left: Doris Derby, Rural Family Girlhood, Milestone, Mississippi, 1968; Right: Ángelina Cofer, Nineteen, Chicago, 2021. Courtesy of the artists.
PICTURING BLACK GIRLHOOD: MOMENTS OF POSSIBILITY, is an international exhibition that features more than eighty Black women, girls, and genderqueer artists—ranging in age from 8 to 94—who work in the mediums of photography and film and have a sustained practice exploring the theme of Black girlhood. By bringing together iconic image-makers, emerging artists, and young photographers (over half the artists in the show are under 18), the show considers Black girlhood as an essential stage of development, an integral moment of political awakening, an embattled site of representation, and a critical source of artistic inspiration around the world.
Comprising all three main exhibition floors of Express Newark at Rutgers University-Newark, this show restages intimate Black girl coming-of-age narratives made in the reifying lens of Black women and genderqueer artists and the real-time experiences and perspectives of Black girls themselves. The images made by Black women photographers and filmmakers are placed alongside those made by Black girls. The result is a disruption of traditional art world hierarchies and a centering of Black girls as subjects, artists, and agents of their own lives.
PICTURING BLACK GIRLHOOD: MOMENTS OF POSSIBILITY is reflective of our times. In our current period of pandemic and racial reckoning, these artists offer us intimacy, rest, renewal, connection, and exaltation as answers and aesthetics of freedom. These images and films demand that we witness the full breadth of Black girls and gender-expansive youth on their own terms—and those of the people they will soon become.
Generous support for this exhibition is provided by Rutgers University – Newark, the Ford Foundation, New Arts Justice, Shine Portrait Studio, Rutgers Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice, Paul Robeson Galleries, Black Girl Freedom Fund, Duggal Visual Solutions, HarbourView Foundation. Additional support has come from our community partners A Long Walk Home, The Art Effect, The Beautiful Project, Bronx Documentary Center, International Center of Photography, International House of Juicy Couture, and Perfect Ten.