Women of a New Tribe by Jerry Taliaferro
Artist Jerry Taliaferro honors the physical and spiritual beauty of black women in "Women of a New Tribe," a national photography exhibit on display in the lobby area of Mullins Library honoring both Black History Month and Women's History Month.
Since the project premiered at the Afro-American Cultural Center in Charlotte, N.C., in 2002, it has traveled to several cities where Taliaferro photographs local women to include in the exhibition. The women in our community featured in the exhibit include a University of Arkansas student and scholarship recipient, a doctor, an assistant principal, a restaurant owner, a lawyer, a police station dispatcher, a case worker, a community activist, a hair stylist, caregivers, ministers, and nurses.
"Our task to photograph these incredible women was made easy by the light that poured from them. When they talked about their passions and projects, they literally glowed," says Taliaferro. "The Northwest Arkansas community is truly blessed by the presence of these women, who continue to give of themselves and their many talents."
Taliaferro presents his subjects in the dramatic, high-glamour style reminiscent of the photography of 1930s and 1940s Hollywood. The photographs explore different themes, such as tribal beauty, portraiture, and family relationships. Taliaferro explains that the exhibit's title was inspired by hearing Toni Morrison refer to African Americans as "New World Africans" in an interview on National Public Radio. This resonated with Taliaferro who believed that "African Americans are a new people born of this new American experience."
A native of Brownsville, Tenn., Taliaferro joined the Army in 1972 and graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1977. His interest in photography began when he was posted to Fort Bragg, N.C., for Special Forces training and continued to grow while serving in Germany, where his work was first published in a Munich magazine. After returning to the U.S., Taliaferro left the military for a career in commercial photography. As his interests evolved, he turned to the fine arts. The success of this exhibit inspired the publication of Women of a New Tribe: A Photographic Celebration of the Black Woman in 2007. Taliaferro currently lives with his wife, Debra, in Charlotte, N.C.
"Women of a New Tribe" will be on display in Mullins Library through the end of April.
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