Live Culture airs March 27th, 2021 
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This Month on Live Culture:
Sewing Machines & Cameras
The African Lookbook

March 27, 2021
from 11-12 noon  


Listen live on WPKN 89.5 fm, online at
& later as a podcast on


This month on Live Culture Martha is pleased to talk with Catherine E. McKinley, author of four critically acclaimed books, about her most recent project The African Lookbook: A Visual History of 100 Years of African Women published by Bloomsbury in 2021. This lavishly illustrated book is an exploration of Africa's photographic history, fashion, trade history, and African women's selfhood. The book features works from The McKinley Collection, a personal archive representing African photography from 1870 to the present. This unique project features an introduction by Edwidge Danticat, a foreword by Jacqueline Woodson and original collages, sourced with images from the collection, by Frida Orupabo.

The African Lookbook creates a powerful locus where where history and personal narrative blend to construct a sweeping,  unprecedented visual history of African women.  Join us for a conversation about collecting,  identities, shifting technologies, fashion and the fascinating global history of textiles, trade, and migration.
A Fulbright scholar, McKinley has also published The Book of Sarahs, a memoir, which chronicles growing up in the 1970s and 80s as one of the less than 15,000 Black and "Bi-racial" children adopted into white homes, and McKinley's search for self in the Jewish, Choctaw, and Black family spread from Ghana to Cape Verde, Las Vegas to Boston. She is also the author of Indigo: In Search of the Color that Seduced the World, which recounts a journey along ancient trade routes in eleven West African countries in search of "blue gold" with its connections to spirituality, art, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the deepest human desires.  Her other writings include explorations of Black lesbian identity, African textiles and material culture, the birth in 1957 of African's first industrial doll alongside Independence, the fashions of Namibian Herero women and the legacy of the first genocide of the 20th century. McKinley has taught creative nonfiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University.  She lives in New York City.

More about Catherine E. McKinley can be found here:
More about the African Lookbook can be found here:
More about The McKinley Collection can be found here:

This episode also includes music clips by Rokia Traoré & Fats Waller.

Image credits:
Live Culture logo : Detail of "Small and Large Thoughts" by Joan Fitzsimmons, Courtesy of the artist
Top Image:  African Lookbook cover art,
courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing


Now in it's 5th Year, Live Culture is a monthly radio program
about art, ideas and visual culture,
hosted by artist Martha Willette Lewis
& airing on
WPKN radio, Bridgeport Ct.

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