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Spelman Museum Opens New Exhibit On Global Fashion

Artist Fabiola Jean-Louis makes intricate dresses out of paper. One of her dresses is on display in the Spelman Museum of Fine Art's new exhibit.
Credit Courtesy of Fabiola Jean-Louis and Alan Avery Art Company
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The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art turned 20 this year. And to celebrate that anniversary, it found 20 international artists and designers to contribute to their new exhibit, which focuses on fashion, “Africa Forecast: Fashioning Contemporary Life.”

“We’ve noticed how museums have amazing fashion exhibitions,” said the museum’s director Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, who curated the exhibit with Seattle-based curator Erika Dalya Massaquoi, “and we wondered, where is the African presence in this?”

“Africa Forecast” features artists from across the globe. Two artists highlighted in the interview were Mimi Plange, whose clothing Michelle Obama has worn, and Haitian artist Fabiola Jean-Louis, who will have one of her intricate paper dresses on display. It also features a variety of media from Instagram photography to acrylic paintings.

The exhibit, though, is not just about clothes. It is also about using “fashion” as verb and explores how designers and visual artists across the African Diaspora construct (or fashion) their lives.

“This is about these women and their relationship to themselves, to the world, to their communities, to the things they are really, really passionate about,” said Brownlee.

Africa Forecast” opened Sept. 15 at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. Artist talks began at 6:30 p.m. and were followed by a reception. The exhibit runs through Dec. 3.

Designers Firelei Báez, Mimi Plange, and Lina Iris Viktor will discuss their work in the exhibit on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Academic Center Auditorium at Spelman College.

This article has been updated.