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Seven Simultaneous Exhibitions of African American Artists in Seattle!

All of a sudden, we have African American art everywhere in Seattle. And it isn’t even Black History Month! Some of these museums may be responding to the political critique of exclusion at white museums by the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Posing Beauty,” at the Northwest African American Museum (ends September 4) features photographs of stunning men and women in high fashion clothes, but only some of it is actually “fashion show” art. The two parts of the exhibition are labeled “Posing – Where Does Beauty Reside? Face, Figure, Hair, Dress, Bearing Character. How Do You Want to be Seen?” and “Beauty: Distinguished, Thoughtful, Stylish, Outrageous, Celebrity, Proud.” Black people dress and perform in white society with great care in order to avoid harassment, but even then, they are often stopped for no reason. In this exhibition, we see many elites, and some ordinary people, presenting themselves with dignity and pride.

Most pointed to the issue of how African Americans present themselves is Carrie Mae Weems’ take on Snow White. Wearing an attractive dress, she looks in a mirror and says, “I looked and looked to see what terrified you.”