Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name



Fine Arts

Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

intersectionality; Black Feminism; Caricatures; Visual Communication; Visual Representation


This thesis investigates how Black womanhood has been visually represented in hopes to either recognize Black women as full, nuanced, and legitimate participants of society or to reinforce monolithic representations built from the constructs of social, political, and economic oppression. It also gives an analysis of Black feminism and how Black feminist thought can be applied to the creative process in hopes of challenging visual misrepresentations of Black womanhood. The aim of this thesis is to show that artists and visual communicators do have a responsibility to be conscious of the messages conveyed in their work. In addition, they must be vigilant about not reinforcing negative stereotypes that represent Black womanhood as an inferior status.

Lay Summary

An identity is made up of many overlapping social categories. Some of these categories are race, gender, class, and ability. The Black woman identity is the intersection of race and gender. More specifically it is the intersection of Blackness and womanhood. For my thesis, the Black woman identity is inclusive in terms of gender identity. This includes transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary individuals. However, the term femme is only used to describe individuals who fall on the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual) spectrum and express feminine qualities that are intentionally related to their identity.

The Black woman identity has been represented across various means of visual communication, such as the fine arts, advertisements, film, and television. The aim of this thesis is to challenge the misrepresentations that reinforce sexist and racist stereotypes and fail to recognize Black women and femme as legitimate participants in society.

This research will address the responsibilities of a visual communicator, someone who creates images that are meant to communicate an idea or message. One of these responsibilities include portraying the Black woman identity as fully realized and nuanced. This is because these portrayals act as extensions of real Black women and femme and thus have real life consequences.