ARCHIVE: Will to Adorn: An Overview
Recorded: Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 @ 1:00 pm - 1:30 pm EST
Duration: 30 minutes
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.
Since 2009, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage’s Will to Adorn Initiative has conducted collaborative research in African American communities, examining identity, diversity, and aesthetics through the lens of personal dress and adornment. Modeled on a pilot program developed at Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center in the Bronx, New York, the Will to Adorn Youth Access Project sponsors teen folk culture internships in eight cities around the US. Sited in partnership with community organizations and other youth programs, it engages middle schoolers and teens to conduct ethnographic research in their own communities, eventually presenting that scholarship back to their communities.
Diana Baird N’Diaye’s interdisciplinary training in anthropology, folklore, and visual studies—and her experience as a studio craft artist—support more than three decades of scholarly work, which focuses on expressive culture in Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States.
Sally Van de Water is the program coordinator for The Will to Adorn Youth Access Program, and also coordinated the Will to Adorn program at the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Before joining the staff of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in February 2013, she was the research coordinator for the Will to Adorn research projects in the US Virgin Islands and was a member of the advisory committee.