Black Women: Image & Perception in Popular Culture

Finalist 2019

Many stereotypical caricatures have been placed on Black women throughout U.S. history. Efforts by White European colonizers to separate themselves from the foreigners they encountered, manifested as stereotypes that promoted the inferiority of Blacks and were thus used to justify White superiority and the oppression of people of color.

Students researched issues surrounding the identities of Black women, conducted in-depth interviews with members of this population, and worked with museum staff members to create an exhibit that represented this information. They wrote content, designed the components and planned the three-dimensional installation. The goals of this exhibit was to celebrate Black women—by identifying the harmful ways popular culture often stereotypes them, then showing counter-stereotypical images and information to refute those pejorative ideas—and create conversation around the ways we can negate these stereotypes.

The students made the most of their limited budget and exhibit footprint. The exhibit included a large timeline, a series of photographs, information about the stereotypes, a feedback survey and two participatory chalk wall components. The exhibit ran for five months, during which time museum staff arranged programming to connect to the exhibit’s content.

Design Firms: 

University of Maryland


Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture

Project Area: 

600 sq ft

Open Date: 

August 2018

Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 

Audra Buck-Coleman (photography)

Design Team: 

Mycah Shelton (principal designer, lead production designer); Chloe Isaac, Keyona Islar (principal designers, co-creative directors), Akil Alleyne, Holly D’Zmura, Meirav Finn, Brittany Kookaby, Catherine Medlock, Gira Patel, Jasmine Thomas (principal designers); Gabrielle Abella, Patrick Chin, Michelle Delabrer, Sarah Faller, Aliza Grant, John Carlo Mandapat, Mallory O’Conor, Keren Straus, Dimas Syuardi, Cheryl Wang, Bo Mi Yoon (supporting designers)


Charles Bethea (co-curator), Audra Buck-Coleman (instructor)


Duo Signage + Graphics (printing, graphics)

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