MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Visitors will be introduced to the dynamic traditions of African dress as the exhibition “African-Print Fashion Now! A Story of Taste, Globalization, and Style” is displayed Feb. 24-Aug. 12, 2018 at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
“African-Print Fashion Now! A Story of Taste, Globalization, and Style” highlights the interplay between regional preferences and cosmopolitanism that has long flourished on the continent, while highlighting the expansiveness of 21st-century African-print fashion.
From formal portraiture to visual arts to ubiquitous African fashion calendars to street style photos shared by cellphone, it is clear that representations of fashion have always been a nuanced form of communication.
The exhibition includes 60 tailored fashions, 100 archival and contemporary cloths, 20 black-and-white studio portrait photographs from the 1960s and 1970s, a series of runway videos, and seven works by contemporary visual artists. Ensembles on view draw from the Fowler Museum at UCLA’s collections, private loans, and the extensive archives of the Dutch textile manufacturing company Vlisco.
African-Print Design Challenge
The Brooks is partnering with Spoonflower to hold a two-part African-Print Design Challenge that incorporates the repeating design style of African print. The Brooks recognizes that Africa has a thriving contemporary art scene, with fashion and fabric design being a vital part of it.
Spoonflower, based in Durham, North Carolina, is the world’s first web-based service for custom, on-demand fabric creation making it possible for individuals to design, print and sell their own fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap. Through the partnership with Spoonflower, the Brooks wants designers around the world to discover the creative process of crafting African-print cloth through color, design, and fabric.
Part 1: Textile Design
The first part of the challenge invites creatives to design a textile that highlights the dynamic traditions of bold and colorful patterns found in African dress. The winning textile design will be featured during the exhibition opening and will be used in the second part of the challenge. The winner will receive $200 Spoondollars and a $500 prize from the Brooks.
Contestants can submit their repeating textile designs now via Spoonflower.com. The submission period ends Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 2 p.m. CST / 3 p.m. EST. The public will vote on their favorite design beginning January 4 and ending January 9. A jury of local Memphis fashion designers, makers and relevant Brooks Museum staff will choose the grand prize winner from the top 25 designs voted on by the public. The winning design will be announced Jan. 11.
Part 2: Fashion Design
The Brooks continues the African-Print Design Challenge by inviting designers, artisans, and makers to create an original fashion design using the winning textile design.
Contestants must purchase fabric featuring the winning textile design via Spoonflower, then create a finished fashion design. This can be in the form of clothing, accessories, or even jewelry. They can submit their fashion design entry from Feb. 27-May 6 at www.brooksmuseum.org. The entry will be judged based on the submitted photograph by our jury of local Memphis fashion designers, makers and relevant Brooks Museum staff.
The fashion design winner will be announced and recognized during the museum’s summer Community Day on Friday, June 15. The winning fashion design, featuring the winning textile design, will be exhibited at the Brooks from June 15 through Aug. 12. The winner will also receive a $500 prize.
An accompanying fully illustrated exhibition catalog featuring “African-Print Fashion Now!” will be available for sale at the Brooks. The volume is generously funded by the R. L. Shep Endowment Fund at the Fowler Museum. The publication includes essays authored by exhibition co-curators Suzanne Gott, Kristyne S. Loughran, Betsy D. Quick, and Leslie W. Rabine.
African-Print Fashion Now! A Story of Taste, Globalization, and Style is organized by the Fowler Museum at UCLA in association with Vlisco Netherlands B.V. It is guest curated by Suzanne Gott with Kristyne S. Loughran, Betsy D. Quick, and Leslie W. Rabine. Major funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts with the additional support of R.L. Shep, DutchCulture, and the Pasadena Art Alliance.
This exhibition is sponsored locally by Malco, Sue Layman Designs, Mr. and Mrs. Kent Farmer, and Dr. Linda Tharp.
Photo credit: Joshua White, JWPictures.com
About the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Founded in 1916 and located at 1934 Poplar Ave. in historic Overton Park, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is home to Tennessee’s oldest and largest major collection of world art. More than 10,000 works make up the Brooks Museum’s permanent collection, including works from ancient Greece, Rome and the Americas; Renaissance masterpieces from Italy; English portraiture; American painting and decorative arts; contemporary art; and a survey of African art. The Brooks Museum enriches the lives of our diverse community through the museum's expanding collection, varied exhibitions, and dynamic programs that reflect the art of world cultures from antiquity to the present. For more information about the Brooks and all other exhibitions and programs, call 901.544.6200 or visit brooksmuseum.org.