The Crown and Gowns Project: Building Self-Esteem and Empowering Black Girls Through ArtJanuary 26, 2015
Lancaster, PA — The images of dark-skinned black girls in the media can be negative, stereotypical, angry and sad. Passionate and retired school social worker, Ruby Taylor (www.arthassoul.com) has joined creative forces with world-renowned illustrator, Shaneque Gay, to birth the uplifting and inspiring The Crown & Gowns Project for black girls, ages 11 through 20.
Crown and Gowns will document the personal story and reaction of 12 girls through film and canvas upon receiving an all expense paid life changing experience: a gown, tiara and an original portrait by Shaneque Gay. The Crown and Gowns project (www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-film-celebrating-black-girls-beauty-through-art) needs support to raise funds to cover expenses and materials; a small donation of $5 or more can change the conversation as it relates to beauty, love and empowerment.
What started for Ruby Taylor and her niece as a happy trip to New York City to bask in culture at the Studio Museum in Harlem turned into a disappointing revelation of black beauty? While experiencing the popular exhibit, Jet Beauty of The Month, “my niece’s face went from joy to sadness as she observed the images of beauty which did not celebrate her complexion and rich hue. We as black women come in all different shades, sizes, height, hairstyles and the exhibit portrays a certain look: light-skinned, tall, mixed, curly and straight hair. Although I was happy to see a sprinkling of dark-skinned beauties in the exhibit, it was not enough. I was encouraged to create a platform for girls and women to showcase their inner and outer beauty. Joining forces with the talented Shaneque Gay for The Crown and Gowns project, has truly been magical and bigger than I envisioned,” says Ruby.
Ruby Taylor, MSW, is a trained schoolteacher, social worker, motivational speaker, author, with degrees from both Virginia Union University and Howard University School of Social Work. In 2012, she suffered a brain injury, forced to retire from teaching and pressed reset to remix the message of love and pain as a documentarian. Ruby’s first documentary, Mad Believer, explored her faith in light of her brother’s murder. Her film was screened at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, and accepted into a few festivals: the Cape Fear, Lancaster Area, and the Urban Philadelphia Film Festival. She is the author of two books including, Confidence to Greatness for Teenage Girls.
Shaneque Gay (www.SGCreativeWisdom.com), the super talented Atlanta based artist was selected by Low Country Luxe and The Congressional Club to create an illustration for the White House, which was featured and presented to First Lady Michelle Obama in 2013. Her artwork has been showcased in the Zane movie, Addicted and on the popular BET show, Being Mary Jane. Gay’s work is among the private collections of actor Samuel L. Jackson, musician/songwriter Leon Russell, and event planner to the stars Preston Bailey. Her exhibit appears around the world and has permanent artwork in the collection of SCAD, Hong Kong.
Ruby Taylor smiles, “It is my prayer that we can change the energy and conversation to celebrate black beauty, knowing that we are all physically beautiful. Using a visual and showing black girls on canvas which is a staple of magnifying beauty forever, is imperative to shape shift a new conversation which would simply start with the words, ‘Girl you are amazing just the way you are’.”
Get involved, donate, share the video with a black girl, women and let them know they are beautiful from their crown to the gown. For additional information on the Crown & Gowns Project, support the campaign, visit, Indiegogo (www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-film-celebrating-black-girls-beauty-through-art). To learn about Ruby Taylor, her work and books, visit www.arthassoul.com •