TEXTURES is a collaborative project created by three black girls from the so-called "inner city": Brandi Thompson Summers (Oakland), Siobhan Carter-David (Bronx), Tanisha C. Ford (Fort Wayne). In 2014, we started presenting together on panels and discovered a shared interest in fashion, urban spaces, art, and material culture, an eclectic intersection that defies traditional disciplinary boundaries and methods. Our disparate approaches to similar source material yielded rich discussions and new analytical frameworks. Soon after, we began sharing stories about our personal backgrounds and brainstorming about our artistic visions. One thing became clear: we enjoyed thinking and creating together. We wanted more of that!
The interstitial spaces we'd developed were truly generative, and in 2017 we decided to work together on a more consistent basis. TEXTURES was born from our collective quirky and creative energy. #TeamTextures is committed to asking bold questions that fuel new ways to approach the study of #fashion, #bodies, and the #builtenvironment. From our mobile lab, we cultivate space with a global community of likeminded artists, curators, academics, and fashion designers who are at the vanguard of their respective fields.
Tanisha C. Ford
Tanisha is an award-winning writer, cultural critic, and Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History at the University of Delaware. She is the author of Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul (UNC Press, 2015), which won the 2016 Organization of American Historians’ Liberty Legacy Foundation Award for best book on civil rights history. Her work centers on social movement history, feminist issues, material culture, the built environment, black life in the Rust Belt, girlhood studies, and fashion, beauty, and body politics. Tanisha's research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Center for Black Music Research, among others. Her scholarly research has been published in the Journal of Southern History, NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art, The Black Scholar, and QED. Her public writing and cultural commentary have been featured in diverse media outlets and publications including ELLE, The Atlantic, The Root, Aperture, The Feminist Wire, Cognoscenti, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Ebony, NPR: Code Switch, Fusion, News One, New York Magazine: The Cut, Yahoo! Style, Vibe Vixen, and New York City’s HOT 97.
Siobhan is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Southern Connecticut State University, teaching in the areas of fashion/beauty studies, and African American, African Diasporic, and contemporary United States histories. As a public historian, she has worked with museum and special collection curators on projects involving various facets of African American and broad-based United States cultural histories. She is author of several chapters in edited volumes and exhibition catalogues and is completing her book manuscript, Issuing The Black Wardrobe: Fashion and Anti Fashion in Post-Soul Publications. A number of internal grants from Indiana University and Connecticut State University, as well as the OAH Diversity Fellowship, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Scholars-in-Residence Program Travel Award, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/Moorland-Spingarn Research Center Travel-to-Collections Grant have supported her work.
Brandi Thompson Summers
Brandi is an Assistant Professor of African American Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University; she is also Associate Executive Director of the Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry, and Innovation (iCubed). Her research and teaching focus on race, gender, urban aesthetics, fashion, media studies, and visual culture. Her forthcoming book project, Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in a Post-Chocolate City (under contract with the University of North Carolina Press), explores the way that competing notions of blackness structure efforts to raise capital and develop land in Washington, D.C. She has written several essays that analyze the relationship between race, aesthetics, culture, and power that appear in both academic and popular publications— QED: A Journal of GLBTQ Worldmaking, Capital Dilemma, Public Culture, and Public Books. Her research has been supported by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the Social Science Research Council, among others.
Here are some of the research, teaching, and community projects #TeamTextures has underway.
TEXTURES pop-ups are unique opportunities to share experiences with our community and collaborators. We believe the term “pop-up” best captures our engagement with space, mobility, innovation, interactivity, evolution and ephemerality. On the one hand, we use pop-ups to circulate ideas, experiences, and images while building focused and sustained interest in matters related to fashion, bodies, and the built environment. On the other hand, pop-ups give us the opportunity to “pop up” in places where black bodies have historically been unwanted and unwelcome..
People are often confused when they hear "material culture" studies. For some, it's some nebulous sub-field that's difficult to pin down. For others, it's associated with the 18th and 19th century, a useful way to study slavery and the formation of the Atlantic World. But at its core, material culture is the study of people and our relationship to the things we use and consume everyday: cellphones, food, disposable razors, clothing, magazines.
We acknowledge the historical significance of aesthetics and cultural production in the growth and maintenance of black life-worlds. Aesthetics, visual and affective judgments of taste, assign value to individual and collective bodies and spaces. We draw on the words of black feminist scholar, bell hooks, who asserts that aesthetics are “more than a philosophy or theory of art and beauty; it is a way of inhabiting space, a particular location, a way of looking and becoming.”