In collaboration with the Themester’s beauty programming, the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center will debut an exhibit and panel exploring beauty in music, according to a press release from Themester.
The Archives of African-American Music and Culture curated the exhibit, titled “Bodies of Sound: Locating the Beautiful in African American Music,” which will feature examples of African-American-produced music including jazz, soul, funk and gospel genres.
An opening reception will introduce the public to these works at 5:30 tonight in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Bridgwaters Lounge.
According to the event’s website, the exhibit will address the various barriers black composers and artists deal with to create their work. These barriers include the European ideals of skin color, hair texture and body shape, which disregard the beauty norms of African performance.
But conversely, the exhibit will also demonstrate the ways black artists use their work to oppose Eurocentric beauty standards.
The AAAMC created a playlist of these songs on its Spotify and YouTube accounts for attendees to listen to before the opening reception. The playlist features songs like Beyoncé’s “Pretty Hurts,” Stevie Wonder’s “Ebony Eyes” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Complexion (A Zulu Love).”
Along with the exhibit, a preceding panel will discuss ideas of beauty within the music industry at 4:30 p.m. today in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center Grand Hall. The panel will be comprised of IU African-American studies and folklore professors, as well as University of Michigan professor Deborah Pollard.
According to the website, the discussion will be divided into two focuses. The first aims to explore the industry’s representations of gender using both the male and female body in its analysis. The other will look at the aesthetics of black performance compared to the aesthetics of American ideals.
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The festival will run May 31 to June 2, and features Margaret Cho and Judah Friedlander.
Photographer Steven Cox's exhibit will open June 1.
The performances are free and take place at Third Street Park.