This book features essays and other reflections commissioned in response to the Facsimile Cabinet of Women Origin Stories, a monumental participatory work by Theaster Gates (born 1973). The Cabinet includes nearly 3,000 framed images of women from the Johnson Publishing Company archive, and highlights from the collection appear in this edited volume.
Founded in 1942, Chicago-based Johnson Publishing chronicled the lives of Black Americans for more than seven decades through the magazines Ebony and Jet. Composed from arguably the most important archive of American Black visual culture in the 20th century, Gates’ work centers the essential and too often unsung role of women in this history.
When the Cabinet was exhibited at the Colby College Museum of Art, 12 women from a wide range of disciplines (including archivists, legal scholars, anthropologists and librarians, as well as curators, visual artists, filmmakers, writers and art historians) were invited to reflect on a work that brings a sisterhood of images to light.