43rd Annual Black Doll Show Presented by The William Grant Still Arts Center

A large crowd of artists, collectors, art patrons and community members were in attendance at The William Grant Still Arts Center, Saturday, December 2, 2023, from 3-6pm.

43rd Annual Black Doll Show Signage (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

By Ricky Richardson | Contributing Writer

        (Los Angeles, Ca) A large crowd of artists, collectors, art patrons and community members were in attendance at The William Grant Still Arts Center, Saturday, December 2, 2023, from 3-6pm.

        Attendees were in attendance for the highly anticipated event of the year. The Black Doll Show began with an opening reception and concert of Saturday, December 2, with the theme “Conjure:  Reclaiming African American Traditions Through Hoodoo and other Spiritual Dolls!

        Dolls in African spiritually are powerful tools that offer an opportunity for ritual healing through veneration of ancestors’ protection, good fortune, education and overall well-being. The structure of Africanism in these practices (Ifa, Vodun, Hoodoo, Lucumi, etc) provides a necessary contiguity and foundation for practitioners.

Monica Bailey and Jahsun Ifakolade Edmonds (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

        Monica Bailey curated this immersive exhibition. In a statement, “Conjure will use dolls and other spiritual objects to immerse viewers in African cosmology through an African-American lens. The exhibit, co-curated with Jahsun Ifakolade Edmonds, encourage viewers to ask the question “How can these tools help us flourish our connection with our origin stories and honor these histories going forward?”

        Jahsun Ifakolade performed Libation accompanied by Marcus L. Miller on percussions.

Tamica Washington-Miller, Marcus L. Miller, Nailah Porter and Kitten Kuroi (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

        The program continued with jubilant and lively performances. Tamica Washington-Miller (dancer/vocals) gave the crowd a brief overview of Ring Shouts/Shouters. Tamica along with Nailah Porter (musician, poet and photographer), Kitten Kuroi and Marcus L. Miller using a walking stick as a percussion instrument) performed “Sign of the Judgement” and “Jubilee” which is a Freedom song. The latter song had a lot of crowd participation, call and response vocals and joyous dancing and celebrations.

        The Hoodoo Spellbinders: Marcus L. Miller-bandleader/drums, Bobby Pierce-keyboards, Anikulapo- bass, Mark Tyson- guitar and David Leach- percussions, backed Kitten Kuroi as we proceeded to have church at The William Grant Still Arts Center. Kitten Kuroi sang two versions of “There is a Light.” The Hoodoo Spellbinders took the crowd on a musical journey to the Motherland for a rousing, high octane selection of Afro Beat a la Fela Kuti to close out the opening reception and concert.

The Black Doll Show is a wonderful exhibit to check out, which will run from December 2, 2023 through February 10, 2024. Why not treat yourself, family, and out of town guests (in for the Holidays) to the Black Doll Show. You will be glad for the experience.

        Special Note: The William Grant Still Arts Center will host a variety of popular, engaging and educational workshops led by seasoned artists and practitioners.

        December 16- Alter Workshop with Dr. Cynthia Davis and Beverly Health

        January 13, 2024-First Doll Making Workshop (Spirit Doll Workshop) with Nawili Grey and Fana Babadayo

        January 20, Dr. Cynthia Davis Dolls of Hope

        January 27, Candle Making Workshop with The AfroMystic

        February 3-Final Doll Workshop with Aiysha Sinclair

        The 43rd Annual Black Doll Show will feature several Panel Discussions and Master Workshops

        January 6- Master Class with Griffin Lotson (Gullah Geechee Historian and Manager of the Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters) and other esteemed guests.

        February 2- Film Screening “Your Children Will Come Back to You” Sharon Alile Larkins, Filmmaker (LA Rebellion)

        February 10-Closing Event-TBA

Shamanicka Boykins (Photo by Ricky Richardson)

        Featured artists and collectors for the 43rd Annual Black Doll Show: Adrienne De Vine, Adrienne Franklin, Aiysha Sinclair, Angela Briggs, Anitra Bradley, Berry Stinson, Billie Greene, Candace Thomas, Carine Fabius, Doug Pearsall, Dr. Beverly Fogart, Dr. Cynthia Davis, Fana Babadayo, Fallon Wilson, Floyd Bell, Griffin Lotson, Heather Hilliard Bonds, Imani Afi, Iyami Aje, Jade Daniels, Jerri Hubbard, Jom Rivers, LaRonda Carson, Lola, Lavish, Lois Von B, Mac Billups, Marsha May  Bennett, Nawili Grey, Nicole Buchanan, NK Abstract, Norman Reneau, Ronieka Pinkey, Sanyu Estelle, Shamanicka Boykins, Sharon Alile Larkin, Sika, The AfroMystic  and Myshell Tabu.

        The Black doll show was inspired by a doll test conducted by Mami and Kenneth Clark. The test concluded that due to social stigmas, many black children preferred white dolls over black dolls. Inspired by the doll test, artist/curator Cecil Fergerson started the Black Doll Show in the ‘80s. Wanting to change the negative self-image, Fergerson brought together handmade dolls by artists around the country into one exhibit. Through its many transformations, the Black Doll Show was been a celebration.

        William Grant Still Arts Center, 2520 South West View Street

               Los Angeles, California 90016



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