Fashion, Culture, Futures

Aesthetics of Freedom | Hypervisibility in Modest and Queer Fashions
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Modest fashion and style birthed from queer experiences have been historically excluded by social and political codes and misappropriated by the broader fashion system. Moderated by Cooper Hewitt’s Education Associate Darnell-Jamal Lisby, this conversation explores ways these systemic pitfalls have been creatively combatted. Speakers include the Founder of UMMA Models Shannie, and artist Brendan Fernandes.

This program is being held as part of the symposium, Fashion, Culture, Futures: African American Ingenuity, Activism, and Storytelling. Learn more and sign up to attend.


About the Speakers

Brendan Fernandes (b. 1979, Nairobi, Kenya) is an internationally recognized Canadian artist, currently based in Chicago, working at the intersection of dance and visual arts. His projects address issues of race, queer culture, migration, protest, and other forms of collective movement, and are rooted in collaboration and foster solidarity. Brendan is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program and a recipient of a Robert Rauschenberg Fellowship. In 2010, he was shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award, and is the recipient of a prestigious 2017 Canada Council New Chapters grant. He is also the recipient of the Artadia Award, a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant. His projects have shown at the 2019 Whitney Biennial; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; the Museum of Modern Art; The Getty Museum; the National Gallery of Canada; MAC (Montreal); among others. He is currently artist-in-residence and assistant professor at Northwestern University and is represented by Monique Meloche Gallery.
Darnell-Jamal Lisby is a fashion historian and the former project curatorial assistant of the Willi Smith: Street Couture exhibition and extending projects. Currently, he serves as an education associate handling public programs at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
During her career as a photographer and creative director, Shannie founded UMMA Models after realizing the lack of diversity of modest clothing and representation in the fashion industry and media, despite the vast consumer market. The need for nakedness in the media and in quotidian consumption isolated many communities. Shannie works in her career to make a safe space for women within the fashion industry, allowing them to pursue a career in fashion modeling without compromising personal or religious beliefs.

Special Thanks

Fashion, Culture, Futures: African American Ingenuity, Activism, and Storytelling is co-organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Principal support is provided by  Graphic of a red concentric circles resembling a target

Major support is provided by  Black text against white background spells out [Gucci] in all capital letters

Funding is also provided by The Keith Haring Foundation and One Smithsonian.