UnBecoming: The Poetics of Rupture in Visions of Black Girlhood


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


History of Art and Architecture


This project examines how contemporary artists Faith Ringgold, Deborah Roberts, and Clarissa Sligh have privileged Black girls and Black girlhood as key figures and spaces of influence in American art and visual culture. The dissertation reads these artists’ use of ruptural aesthetics—collage, constructed photography, and quilting—as modes of fracturing the visual rhetoric surrounding childhood, citizenship, and nationhood that render Black girls invisible. Ruptural aesthetic then becomes a visual analog to the “in-between-ness” of Black girlhood that must not be elided by dominant discourses of Black studies or Black feminist thought but expand upon it. In-between girl and woman; image and text; past and future, this dissertation tarries in these intermedial spaces, lingering with the possibilities of such openings.