Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890's to Present

October 5, 2015

Award winning author and photographer Deborah Willis' latest work of art, “Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890's to the Present,” visually brings us back to a time that was much different than it is now, but really the same.

Reward notice for a runaway slave named Dolly, ca. 1863 (Image: W.W. Norton & Co.)

Part of Willis' inspiration for her new book she says comes from her fascination of the way people pose. Published by Norton & Co., the book “Explores the ways in which our contemporary understanding of beauty has been informed by photographers and artists,” Willis explains.
Negro boys on Easter morning, April 1941, by Russell Lee (Image: W.W. Norton & Co.)

Following a request through her secretary, Willis made time to speak with The Huffington Post to discuss what it once meant, and what it means now, to be black and beautiful in America.

Four women, Atlantic City, ca 1960's, by John W. Mosley (Image: W.W. Norton & Co.)

In her book, Willis says she's not attempting to try and define beauty, because she doesn't have a definition. “I believe my response to beauty is in the experiences that people have. I'm not defining it. I'm reflecting,” she said.

“Goodness is beauty. It reflects in people's attitude, and sense of style. That's basically how I consider and recognize beauty. I'm not defining it. I'm reflecting.” (read more)