Cultural Expressions is a circular, experiential, introductory space to African American and African diaspora culture.
About the Exhibition
Journey Through the Exhibition
Cultural Expressions Storylines
This section explores the styling impulse of Americans of African descent from clothing and hair styling choices to the politics of skin color. It focuses on how identity, politics, and creativity are expressed through clothing, dress, hair, and jewelry. Fashion designers and beauty products are presented, as well as the effects of colorism or skin color discrimination.
Here the magnitude of the African American hand in the food and foodways of the United States and beyond is explored. Profiles of chefs and restaurant owners accompany explorations of different cuisines, cookware, and tools used in the procurement and service to food.
The focus of this part of the exhibition is the enduring contributions of African American craft. Highlighted are the seminal economic, social, and cultural importance of building crafts. This section illustrates the significance of formal classroom training and apprenticeship as cultural transmission/learning styles and the aesthetic traditions of black community design in American culture.
This part of Cultural Expressions highlights the public and private expressions of social dance and gesture. It examines the spaces where black social dance is performed and the conditions under which it emerges. Also presented is the range of non-verbal communication used by African Americans through gestures from the high five to the fist bump and the side-eye stare to laying on of hands.
The oral traditions and idiomatic expressions of African Americans are many. This section explores their full range largely through the people who used them including preachers, debaters, politicians, and radio djs. It also explores the incorporation of black sounds into literature and poetry by numerous black and white writers.