Closets: Reimagining Identities while Embracing Memories

Photo of négligée by Elizabeth M. Claffey

Photo: Elizabeth M. Claffey, Matrilinear #5, Archival Inkjet Print, 19” x 25,” 2016

Opening Reception
Wednesday, October 2, 2019 | 6PM to 8PM

Exhibition on view through December 20, 2019
Department of Photography & Imaging Galleries
721 Broadway, 1st Floor


Deborah Willis, PhD and Kalia Brooks Nelson, PhD,

The “closet” in the American-English vernacular has long been a metaphor used to describe the psychological parts of ourselves that are kept most private, or hidden from public view. As an expression, it points to the zone of our secrets, or the site of our deepest vulnerabilities. The work shown in Closets: Reimagining Identities while Embracing Memories explores these innermost aspects of ourselves, symbolized through closet space, and how we perform our identities based on how we desire to image ourselves to the world.

The artwork in the show includes images from residential closets, garments found in collections, clothing that evokes personal and cultural identity – as well as closets and cabinets that store photographs and tools. By investigating the closet as a site where beauty, memory and labor are enacted, this exhibition celebrates the closet as a space of empowerment for individuals authoring their own identities contrary to social or cultural convention.

Artists featuring in this exhibition include Janna Ireland, Elizabeth M. Claffey, Lorie Novak, Jennifer Ling Datchuk, Matthew Morrocco, Deborah Willis, Patricia Cronin, Margaret Stratton, Hilton Als, Emma Kaufman, Maaza Mengiste, Tony Barboza, Sophia Tsanos, Linda Foard Roberts, Adrian White, Ken Ard, Qiana Mestrich, Jessica Atkins, Bayeté Ross-Smith, Adama Delphine Fawundu, Darío Calmese, Wendel White, Lauri Freedman, Karl Peterson.