The Colored Girls Museum (TCGM), founded by Vashti DuBois, is a one of a kind memoir museum that honors the experiences, history, and stories of the every-day Colored Girl. This museum provides a space to celebrate artists. It is a space that includes research, exhibitions, and community gatherings. The mission of the museum is to offer and bring awareness to the protection, praise, and grace of the ordinary Colored Girl. The museum is a sanctuary for those prepared for a conscious revolution. For this project, Creative Repute designed the wall paper element for the Museum’s One Room School House exhibition, First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, and Sit A Spell exhibitions and installations.
Creative Repute’s Founder, Nile Livingston, was hired to design a logo for TCGM’s One Room School House project. Rather than a logo, the final deliverable transformed into a set of illustrations. The museum asked to convert the illustrations into a wallpaper pattern. Nile brought in Creative Repute team members to design and complete the wallpaper. The end result was a unique design that is displayed in multiple exhibitions and installations nationally. The wallpaper is now on display at the Philadelphia International Airport as a backdrop for Sit A Spell, an installation borrowed from a traveling exhibition, First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.
Art exhibitions are often put together on a plain white wall background. While this can be effective in allowing artwork to stand out, it has become a common to use this default look. TCGM wanted to step out of the norm and create a warm, inviting, and home-like atmosphere with the use of unique Afro-Futuristic imagery as their backdrop.
The one-room-schoolhouse inside of the illustration offers a nod to the architecture of the museum (the building’s trimming and columns). The curator’s choice to create and use the chosen wallpaper illustrations fit with the museum’s location; a house in Germantown. The presence of books and bookshelves throughout the illustration is in line with the museum’s mission to honor history and the stories of Black and Brown girls. Green patterned leaves symbolize growth, both in young girls and in the growth of knowledge and understanding.
Keeping with the tone of the museum as a whole, this wallpaper is colorful (brown background, green leaf patterns, burgundy clothing, etc.) tying in with the overall theme of recognizing and appreciating the wide-ranging experiences of Colored Girls.
‘Sit A Spell’ installation borrowed from the First Time Ever I Saw Your Face exhibition. Photo from The Philadelphia International Airport.
Named after the 1972 hit by Roberta Flack, First Time Ever I Saw your face is an expression and education with regards to the erasure of childhood that Black and Brown girls have faced throughout history, and continue to face even still today. The motivation of the exhibition is to help people of all backgrounds to acknowledge the harsh reality of growing up as a girl of color as well as to allow a dedicated safe space for women of color to reflect on the fact that they did, despite unjust factors, have a childhood.
The Georgetown Law’s Center for Poverty and Inequality conducted a study in 2017. The study found that Black girls are disproportionally subject to Adultification Bias. Adultification is a term that refers to how, due to systematic racism, Black children are often seen as older than they are and have to prematurely assume social and emotional roles of adults.
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face features six portraits of Philadelphia girls. Each artist selected their muse and spent time to get to know them, understand them and really see them. The process of portraiture shares many parallels in line with respecting the importance of the preservation of Black childhood. Creating a portrait takes time, dedication, patience, and care- all of which are representative of characteristics that should be included in anyone’s childhood, especially those of Black girls.
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