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Exhibitions/ Pen, Lens & Soul: The Story of The Beautiful Project

Pen, Lens & Soul: The Story of The Beautiful Project

At The Met Fifth Avenue
December 6, 2019–February 24, 2020

Exhibition Overview

Pen, Lens & Soul: The Story of The Beautiful Project presents over a decade of work by image makers who create spaces for Black girls and women to express their power and beauty. Founded in 2004, The Beautiful Project is a North Carolina–based collective of Black artists, scholars, and educators who act as agitators encouraging Black girls and women to be the caretakers of their needs and images.

Through writing, photography, and programming, The Beautiful Project cultivates Black identity, fosters sisterhood, and embraces Black girls within a loving community. Amid widespread misunderstanding and misuse of Black likenesses in the media and in the world at large, the members of The Beautiful Project amplify the voices of Black girls and women, encouraging them to own conversations that are often about them but without them. The works in this exhibition are both a creative celebration and a summons: inspiring viewers to honor the dynamism of Black girls and women, and at the same time, urging them to confront pervasive misrepresentations of Black culture. The Beautiful Project is the house that Black girls and women built.

The Beautiful Project is one of twenty-one arts and cultural organizations—including The Metropolitan Museum of Art—that form the Collaborative for Creative Practice and Social Justice. The members of this group work in and with communities across New York City and in North Carolina to promote positive social change. The Met is proud to host this exhibition.

This exhibition was curated by Jamaica Gilmer, Khayla Deans, Pamela Thompson, and Erin Stephens of The Beautiful Project, with profound support from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The exhibition is made possible by The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in

Madylin Nixon-Taplet, The Beautiful Project Intern 2016. Coach Amber and Kenady at Black Girl Image Maker Workshop, 2018. Digital photograph. Courtesy the artist.