The Will to Adorn
DanceAfrica Bazaar, 2009. Photo by Jade Banks Alfred Street Baptist Church Runway Fashion show, May 12, 2012. Photo by Sharon Farmer, Smithsonian Institution Mr. Man Clothing Store, 1970s. Photo courtesy of Rufus and Rosetta Isley DanceAfrica Bazaar, 2009. Photo by Jade Banks

The Will to Adorn

African American Dress
and the Aesthetics of Identity

The Will to Adorn: African American Dress and the Aesthetics of Identity is a multi-year collaborative folk cultural research and public presentation project initiated by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Through the work and perspectives of museum, academic, and community scholars, as well as community-based cultural practitioners including artisans and designers from across the nation, this project explores the diversity of African American identities as expressed through the cultural aesthetics and traditional arts of the body, dress, and adornment. This ongoing research will be shared through future Smithsonian public programs, including a Folklife Festival program in 2013, an exhibition, as well as through publications and online materials.