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Glamazonia at the August Wilson Center

Last weekend, I spent some time enjoying Mario Epanya‘s Glamazonia, on display at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh through April:

One of the world’s most renowned and outspoken fashion photographers, Mario Epanya stirred an ongoing global dialogue in 2010 when he proposed the launch of Vogue Africa. GLAMAZONIA gives artistic expression to this continuing discussion, and more importantly, a vehicle to help shift our perception of the physical ideal.  The exhibition features images of black women with African inspired hairstyles, garments, and accessories, and offers testament to African beauty. Epanya’s photographic images underscore his African ancestry and capture the aesthetics of African ceremonial and special occasion dress.  This exhibition also features African-inspired sculptural work by Vanessa German and Thaddeus Mosley, and garments by FashionAFRICANA.

In 2010, Cameroon-born and Paris-based, Epanya’s name and art went viral when he shot a series of covers for a fictional Vogue Africa.  Glamazonia featured several of those covers (including this one–

Epanya's VogueAfrica

–my favorite!) along with a series of other works shot using models of with varying skin tones and hair textures.

Fashion Africana (February 2013) / Photograph taken (with permission) by Jessica Marie Johnson

Epanya discusses his motivation here:

The exhibit also featured artwork straight from the wickedly eclectic hands of visual and performance artist Vanessa German and sculptor Thaddeus Mosley.

The curator of the exhibit, Demeatria Boccella, elegant even in her heavy winter coat (it was cold in Pittsburgh!) took the time to explain the exhibit and show me and a guest around. As she spoke, it became clear that Glamazonia was about more than fostering a diverse vision of black womanhood in the fashion industry, already an important intervention. Much of our discussion centered around how she hoped to use Glamazonia as a venue for discussing body image and representations of blackness across all kinds of media, and to encourage schools and classrooms to visit the exhibit as a way to empower young women and girls of color living in Pittsburgh.

For more on the exhibit FashionAfricana » GLAMAZONIA by Mario Epanya