Will to Adorn
Research New York City
The Arts of dress and adornment in African American culture are
more than simply statements of personal taste and sense of
Mind-Builders, May 2009
Dance Africa Festival and Bazaar
Founded in 1977, DanceAfrica features dance
companies from across the African Diaspora that
come to New York City to shake the stage of the
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). A Memorial
Day weekend tradition for over 32 years, this
African heritage and community celebration is
packed with traditional and contemporary African
dance, music, art, and film events. It is also famous
for its outdoor bazaar, which features over 250
vendors from around the world and reportedly
attracts more than 30,000 shoppers for the three-
Photographer and artist Jade D. Banks chose the
DanceAfrica Bazaar as a research field for the “Will
to Adorn” project because she knew – as part of
the African American community, herself – that
many communities of style would be present at
the African (American) marketplace.
Photographer: Jade D. Banks (left) with dancer
and choreographer Obediah Wright.
Norman Messiah is an artisan of style.
He purportedly paints on every surface he
can find. Mr. Messiah decorated these
shoes and glasses (his specialty – for which
he has become well-known in NYC). On
this day, however, he was a shopper at the
Left and right: Artisans
who were also vendors of
these hats. Note: The hats
contract into a cylinder
when not worn.
Right: Shoppers at the
respective styles as
wear combined with
Above: Sani-Abu Mohammed Above:
Artisan of style and
Allen, a Nigerian dance vendor - sporting a
educator, performer and contemporary and cultural
choreographer of the Ijo look of dreadlocks with a
Vudu dance company, shaved head.
wears a “dreadlocked
Mohawk.” This hairstyle Left: ShopperOmena El,
is/was also worn by the dancer and choreographer,
Mandinka of West Africa. dons a faux Mohawk of
natural hair on the top and
baby twists on the side.
Vendor of contemporary clothing made Artisan of style, jewelry maker and vendor
of African and natural fabrics – designed - she calls her hairstyle “a pyramid.”
for the professional woman.
of Osun. (The Yoruba
people are a Nigerian
She wears the
Above:A Rastafarian wearing a colors orange and
traditional Rasta knit cap of ites gold to honor her
(red), gold and green –Pan orisha. Her hair is
African colors. combined with
Shopper with contemporary,
Right: create the style.
lightened and manicured dreadlocks.
shopper combines styles
– Afrocentric and boho chic –
to create a uniquely
personalized look. She also
sports a completely shaved
head, which also makes her
Above: Senegaleseartisan of
style, jewelry-maker and
Above:African- vendor in his everyday
American family in clothes (traditional West
traditional West African wear).
African dress, which
gives them a festive
look at the Bazaar.
Artisan of style and vendor of unique, Contemporary chic shopper trying on a
Afrocentric and artsy designs made from jacket to find the perfect fit… His
recycled items. Note: Her styles are sneakers also give him a boho effect.
both contemporary and “throwback.”
Michael Manswell, artistic director of the dance Shoppers in personalized mixtures of
company “Something Positive,” is seen here as a communities of style: Rastafarian,
shopper. He has a unique look, encompassing European/Brixton, boho, and a Greenwich
many communities of style – old man sharp (hat), Village/New York City look.
boho (jacket and T-shirt) and Afrocentric (pants
Obediah Wright, dancer and Lakai Worrell, dancer and choreographer,
choreographer wears traditional African sports a contemporary revolutionary
dress with contemporary, colored and look - manicured dreadlocks with a
manicured dreadlocks. “Black Panther Party” T-shirt. (Note: The Black
Panther Party is an African-American revolutionary left-wing organization working
for the self-defense for black people - particularly in the 1960s-70s),
Above:Yvonne is an artisan of style for
God-S, which offers hand-painted apparel and
accessories emblazoned with positive images
of women of African descent. She is sporting
a contemporary, Afrocentric style (decorated
T-shirt and decorated denim clothing with
natural twists of hair).
Coffee, artisan of style and vendor,
creates earrings made from political buttons and
Teaty of Sistaphyre Kreations - artisan of style, jewelry Vendor of Unique Designed Jewelry and the “Fly
designer and silversmith. Girl Jumbo Feather Earrings.”
Below: Vendor of Adiva Natural Hair and Skin Care
Below: Shoppers enjoying a bounty of crafted
Products - wearing a contemporary, cultural and natural
jewelry and clothing… look of manicured and colored dreadlocks.
Items for sale
Shop, shop, shop!
Buy, buy, buy!