Style as Armour: Identity, Clothing, and Self-Fashioning in History Is Rarely Black or White

History Is Rarely Black or White Speaker Series

“Style as Armour: Identity, Clothing, and Self-Fashioning in History Is Rarely Black or White” with Julie Crooks, Jason Cyrus and Nigel Lezama

Julie Crooks and Nigel Lezama join Jason Cyrus to explore the use of style to both affirm one’s personhood and challenge oppression. Together they examine archival tintypes, contemporary portraiture, and Victorian cotton clothing to shine a light on clothing’s important role in constructing Black identity.


Speaker Biographies

Julie Crooks is Curator, Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Prior to joining the AGO in 2017, Crooks curated exhibitions for many organizations including BAND (Black Artists Networks in Dialogue) and the Royal Ontario Museum’s Of Africa project. She holds a PhD from the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, U.K. Crooks’s area of specialty is vernacular photography of West Africa and the diaspora.

Jason Cyrus analyzes fashion and textile history to explore questions of identity, cultural exchange and agency. He is the 2021 Isabel Bader Fellow in Textile Conservation and Research at the Agnes Etherington Centre, Queens University. This October he will present his research in History Is Rarely Black or White, an exhibition exploring Victorian cotton, slavery, and its ongoing legacies.

Cyrus has a Master’s Degree in Art History and Curatorial Studies from York University and starts his PhD in the History of Art at Warwick University in October 2021. He has held research posts at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum. In January 2020, he curated York University’s first fashion exhibition, ReFraming Gender.

Cyrus currently lives on land that has been the home of numerous Indigenous Nations, including the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabek, and most recently the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

Nigel Lezama is an associate professor in the Modern Languages, Literatures & Cultures department of Brock University. Examining how marginalized and peripheral fashion and luxury practices transform dominant culture, Lezama works at the intersection of fashion, luxury, literary, and cultural studies. His co-edited volume, Canadian Critical Luxury Studies. Decentring Luxury, will be published by Intellect Books in 2021.

This program is supported by the David and Patti Bain Memorial Fund and the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Find more

Installation view of History Is Rarely Black or White.
Online Exhibition
History Is Rarely Black or White

Examine cotton garments in the Queen’s University Collection of Canadian Dress at Agnes and their connection to the global cotton industry through archival research, artistic intervention, and scientific enquiry.

Image Credits

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