Sloss Center’s first Feminist Friday to focus on Black fashion and expression


Kelly Reddy-Best and Dyese Matthews are to lead the presentation at the first virtual Feminist Friday event Friday. 

Claire Hoppe

The Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity will be hosting its first fall semester Feminist Friday virtually Friday at 1 p.m. 

Due to COVID-19 and new social distancing guidelines Iowa State put in place, the upcoming Feminist Fridays will be held virtually. Attendees are able to register to attend for free. 

This week’s topic of discussion is “Black Fashion and Style in the Museum: Exhibitions, Collection Practices, and Social Justice Reform.” The presentation will be led by Kelly Reddy-Best, an associate professor in apparel, merchandising and design, curator and director of the Iowa State Textiles and Clothing Museum, and Dyese Matthews, an Iowa State 2020 alumna in the apparel, merchandising and design program.

Reddy-Best and Matthews will provide highlights of the recent exhibition “Collegiate Fashion and Activism: Black Women’s Styles on the College Campus” that was mounted in the Iowa State Textiles and Clothing Museum from Feb. 3 to April 17.

According to the exhibition’s catalog, the objective of the presentation was to “analyze the ways Black women college students attending predominantly white institutions in Iowa express their Black identity, activism and expressions of empowerment through fashion.”

The exhibition was based off of in-depth interviews with 15 different Black women who currently attend predominantly white colleges. Each woman was asked to loan pieces of their clothing or accessories that expressed their individual styles. These garments made up the 40-piece exhibition.

The clothing exhibition was divided into nine different sections: Messages of Strength, ’90s Throwback, Matriarch, Self-Created Expression, Pride in Skin Tone, Cause Solidarity, Connection to Roots, Fearless Expression, Yes, I Can!, Powerful Words and Black Girl Accessories. The clothing was accompanied by photos of the 15 women, which were aimed to further express their style and individuality. 

“[Matthews] will give an overview of her exhibition, which centers Black women’s voices. She will discuss some of the challenges in trying to do the exhibition due to how white supremacy has impacted the museum,” Reddy-Best said.

Following Matthews, Reddy-Best will speak about her new role at Iowa State. 

“I will discuss my new role as of August 15, 2020, as director and curator, and how I will implement structural changes because I will actively ensure that we resist and reject white supremacy, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia, xenophobia and other forms of prejudice and bias in our history making, practices and policies for the Textiles and Clothing Museum,” Reddy-Best said. 

The Sloss Center staff encourages students and faculty to watch the Feminist Friday event to expand their knowledge, start a conversation and, for an hour per week, see the world from a different point of view. Those interested in attending the event can register here.