The Will to Adorn

The Project

Objectives and Impact

The Will to Adorn project documents and preserves an aspect of African American culture that has not yet been the subject of significant formal folklore study. Through collaborative research, the project endeavors to foster reciprocal learning among diverse partners, instill a sense of pride in community traditions, and contribute to broadening perspectives on African American aesthetics as a whole. Through identifying, documenting, and contextualizing the work of African American “artisans of style,” the project also ensures the preservation and representation of artistic expressions that are underrepresented in museum collections and public programs.

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T-shirts emblazoned with slogans expressed the aspirations of 1960s civil rights activists. Photo by Diana Davies, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives & Collections, Smithsonian Institution

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DanceAfrica Bazaar, 2009, Brooklyn, New York.
Photo by Jade D. Banks