The William Grant Still Arts Center presents “Black Doll Magic: The 41st Annual Black Doll Show.”The virtual event was hosted online again. Then the project will live on an Instagram page @black_doll_magic through February 26, 2022.
The theme for this year’s exhibition takes on online viral video challenges. Black doll artists, collectors and fans are presenting before and after videos of them and their dolls. A playful introduction into our relationships with Black Dolls, the videos will premier at the online opening reception on December 11, 2021, but live on Instagram @black_doll_magic – check website for details (see below)
The Black Doll Show was inspired by a doll test conducted by Mamie and Kenneth Clark. The tests concluded that due to social stigmas, many black children preferred white dolls over black dolls. This test went on to become evidence in civil rights lawsuits. The Clarks became expert witnesses in Brown vs. Board of education and helped the landmark decision to desegregate schools. This doll test was conducted again in 2006 by 17-year old filmmaker Kiri Davis, sadly with the same results.
Inspired by the doll test, artist and curator Cecil Fergerson started the Black Doll Show in the 1980s. Fergerson brought together handmade dolls by artists and collectors from across the nation, with the goal of reframing negative connotations of black people. Through its many transformations, the Black Doll Show has been a celebration and documentation of the black experience.