BHTNH, UNH Center for the Humanities present Black New England Conference

Monday, October 15, 2018
An impage of the BNEC flyer
Courtesy photo

3018: A Fashion Show

Fashion show creative director and co-organizer Terry Robinson explains, “I view this show as a moment in time, taking place far in the future. The whole show tells a story, that 200 years from now a group of African tribes travel into space and 800 years later they come back to the Earth to see where they originated from.”

In addition to creating the final event for this year’s BNEC, Robinson is on a panel entitled The Souls of Black Folks: Stepping Forward, Redrawing Boundaries. By deconstructing the past and present Afrocentric cultural style, panelists will explore the ways that various forms of artistic self-expression are innovating the fields while continuing to remain a distinct cultural phenomenon.

“The fashion show ties in with this exploration of style and redrawing the boundaries for African Americans, particularly moving forward,” Robinson says. “What the models are wearing, what this story tells us, is expressing a forward-looking vision that is empowering to African Americans, inspiring and gives hope for the future … I want people to come and experience this as the culmination of two days of delving into what self-expression means. It is really much more than a fashion show; it is a concept. It moves beyond fashion because it gives you hope and inspiration.” 

The fashion show 3018, a 20-minute event with models cast from UNH’s student body, will take place at  Hamilton Smith Hall at 5 p.m. on Oct. 20. Admission to the fashion show is included with BNEC registration, and tickets to the show only are available for $10 per person through the online registration portal or at the door.

The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire (BHTNH) and UNH’s Center for the Humanities are hosting the 12th Annual Black New England Conference (BNEC) with a focus on the theme, Express Yourself: Identity, Style and Adornment.

“I am excited to be participating in what is sure to be a fun conference as we explore the significance of style in the creation of one’s identity,” says JerriAnne Boggis, executive director of the BHTNH. “Black stylistic expressions represent a creative journey through a history of marginalization, struggle, individuality and empowerment. People of Color have long been judged by Eurocentric ideals of beauty and made to feel inferior by those standards. However, today we are once again seeing a resurgence in Afrocentric style that is reclaiming our voice and selfhood.”

This year’s theme for the event, which will be held Oct. 19 and 20, focuses on how style -— whether expressed through art, music, literature, performance, speech or bodily adornment — operates as a visible and tangible marker of identity and group affiliation. The conference will highlight the historical and present impact of artistic expression on the development of African American identities and cultural production. The event is for anyone who wants to discuss the importance of style beyond a social or climatological necessity and promises to be an animated and vibrant celebration of the individual’s drive to define and redefine what it means to be human.

Conference highlights include:

  • Black History Walking Tour along the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail
  • Reception at the UNH Museum of Art featuring the exhibit DO or DIE: Affect, Ritual & Resistance by internationally known artist Fahamu Pecou
  • Dialogues on topics including The Social Brain and the Creation of Black Identities; African American Representation & Aesthetics in the Movie Black Panther; African American Cool: Commodification, Erasure & Appropriation; Heads Up: It’s All About the Hair

In addition to the panels, Lucius Turner Outlaw Jr., professor of philosophy and of African American and diaspora studies at Vanderbilt University, and Karen Chambers, vice president of IMAN Cosmetics, will present keynote addresses at Friday’s Awards Dinner and at Saturday’s Lunchtime Address, respectively.

Continuing the theme of style, this year’s BNEC will feature a fashion show entitled 3018, a glimpse of Afrofuturistic styles in a story-like setting, featuring clothing from international designer and trendsetter Francis Hendy — whose client list includes Missy Elliot, Wyclef Jean, Samuel L. Jackson, Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Usher and Snoop Dogg — as well as fashions by Emelyne Adios from Manchester and New England-based designers Olivia Amanda Oleko and student designer Elisabeth Walu Osakanu with hair and makeup by Kettia Fenestor and her team. The show will be held Oct. 20 at 5 p.m. at UNH's Hamilton Smith Hall.

Event sponsors include the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, UNH Center for the Humanities, Center for New England Culture, University of New Hampshire, TD Bank, Eastern Bank, Eversource, Northeast Delta Dental, Kennebunk Savings and the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire.

Interested in being a part of this important event? View the full schedule and register for the conference.