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Yale University Exhibition 'Allegories, Renditions, and a Small Nation of Women' Proclamation

Tanzy Ward

I am honored and excited to be a contributor in the upcoming Yale University/Yale Divinity School Fall exhibit: Small Nation Photographs: Allegories, Renditions, & A Small Nation of Women. The exhibit will emphasize Black Victorian women & the 19th century Black middle class through portraits, jewelry, antique clothing, collage artwork & other historical items. Zanathia Jewelry will have various antiques on display at the exhibit, which includes accessories that feature portraits of Black Victorians, original postcard photos from the 19th century, and other antiques. This exhibit is historically significant and the preservation of these items are important for retelling their stories. 

(Collage Artwork Image From Small Nation Exhibits-Created By khaleelah Harris of Small Nation Photographs & Terri Henderson of Black Collagists)


The theme of the exhibit focuses on the items that are connected to the identity formation of many Black Victorians during post-emancipation years. It is often very rare to find antique Victorian accessories and photographs that are a part of Black Victorian lives, yet they do exist. Through these powerful photographs and accessories, we are able to visualize their lives and the memories they may have experienced. The exhibit, specific date and location to be announced, will be presented at the Yale Divinity School division of Yale University. The exhibition will also include a gallery display of mixed media collage artwork, and submissions are currently open for consideration. The collage artwork must reflect the theme of the Small Nation Photographs exhibit. 

Much of the Black Victorian emerging middle-class life seemed to be invisible to the public. Stereotypes and exaggerated caricatures were the prominent representation of Black Americans although this was a false portrayal. Therefore, it is rather important to emphasize the elegant and dignified Black Victorians in the 19th century. Despite their lack of acknowledgement, there are many examples that reflect the progression and affluence that was experienced by Black Victorians. Their beliefs, social identity formation, and intricate traditions in post-emancipated America are all a part of the Small Nation Photographs exhibit. 

(Victorian Era Mourning Stick Pin Featuring A Lovely Unidentified African American Woman. Memento pins and lockets with Black Victorian Portraits Will Be On Display at The Exhibit )


I hope that viewers will reflect on this period and the Black Victorian experience during the 19th century. I am thankful to be working with an amazing group of people on this significant project. I feel a strong sense of connection and love for the curated portraits that I have chosen for this exhibit. As an antique dealer, it is always so exciting to find rare antiques. As an African-American antique dealer, it is even more compelling to find treasures that are linked to Black Victorians. I often wonder if we may be related, what they experienced on their personal journeys, and all of the eventful memories within their lives. 

(Two Victorian Era Portraits of Elegantly Dressed Unidentified Black Victorian Ladies. Antique Original Photographs of Black Victorians Will Be On Display at the Exhibit. Portraits Courtesy of Tanzy Ward/Zanathia Jewelry Collection)


Small Nation Photographs: Allegories, Renditions, & A Small Nation of Women is an amazing opportunity to carry on the legacy of Black Victorians. Certain parts of their stories are often invisible or hidden from our history books. Their identity formation and customs are significant to American history, and each antique object a part of this exhibit helps to tell their stories. May our preservation efforts and this exhibit uplift their lives and legacies. 

For More Information, please visit the official site for ''Small Nation Photographs: Allegories, Renditions, & A Small Nation of Women'' Below:


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