For Immediate Release

Contact: Amy Mercer
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Faith and Fashion Converge At The Gibbes Museum Of Art

Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats on view October 6, 2006 - January 14, 2007

(Charleston, SC) – Each picture tells a poignant story in the exhibition Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats, on view at the Gibbes Museum of Art October 6, 2006 - January 14, 2007.  The exhibition features 30 photographs by Michael Cunningham, five hats and one purse, all of which illustrate the inspiring stories of regal women and the crowns that they wear.  The arresting visuals in the exhibition are enhanced by commentary by Craig Marberry that explores the African-American tradition of wearing marvelous hats to worship.

“Countless black women would rather attend church naked than hatless.  For these women, a church hat, flamboyant as it may be, is no mere fashion accessory; it’s a cherished African American custom, one observed with boundless passion by black women of various religious denominations.  A woman’s hat speaks long before its wearer utters a word.  It’s what Deirdre Guion calls “hattitude… there’s a little more strut in your carriage when you wear a nice hat.  There’s something special about you.”  If a hat says a lot about a person, it says even more about a people—the customs they observe, the symbols they prize and the fashions they fancy.
--From the book Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats

By presenting the exhibition Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats during the holiday season, the Gibbes has created a great opportunity for families to experience the Museum together.  Themes of sisterhood and strength abound in the exhibition, which is presented in the beautiful Rotunda Gallery.  Crowns showcases more than great art-it showcases great women.

Established as the Carolina Art Association in 1858, the Gibbes Museum of Art opened its doors to the public in 1905. 

Located in Charleston’s historic district, the Gibbes houses a premier collection of over 10,000 works of fine art, principally American works with a Charleston or Southern connection and presents special exhibitions annually. In addition, the museum offers an extensive complement of public programming and educational outreach initiatives.

As the aesthetic heart of the Lowcountry, the Gibbes serves the community by stimulating creative expression, increasing economic vitality through tourism, and improving the region’s superb quality of life.

135 Meeting Street * Charleston, SC * 29401