Nakeya Brown, Sofn' Free, 2020, Archival inkjet print, 16 x 20 in., Courtesy of the artist

Bio-Myths: Photographs by Nakeya Brown

Nakeya Brown

November 4, 2023 - March 24, 2024
  • Anne Noland Edwards Gallery

About the exhibition

Nakeya Brown (b. 1988) is a Maryland-based photographer who has engaged the history and material culture of African American beauty products for the last ten years. Her artwork captures the spaces, textures, emotions, and memories of these products and the women that used them, offering insights into African American histories and enduring questions of beauty, memory, and self-definition.


With a visual sensibility uniting both the subtle and the striking, Brown draws from rich traditions within the history of photography like the still life and the portrait, and addresses prevailing questions of contemporary art concerning appropriation and authorship, the ethics of visibility and opacity, and the porous lines between art and advertising. These images of vintage products and bygone styles ask the viewer to consider the ideologies of race, class, and gender contained in the design of mass-produced objects, and in turn the ways that beauty is produced on a mass scale but located within individual bodies. Who looks beautiful? How did they get that way?


Born in Santa Maria, CA, Brown received her BA from Rutgers University and her MFA from The George Washington University. She has had solo exhibitions at the Davis Gallery at Hobart and William Smith Colleges (Geneva, NY), Green Grassi (London), Catherine Edelman Gallery (Chicago), the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (Grand Rapids, MI), and the Hamiltonian Gallery (Washington, DC). Her group exhibitions include the

International Center for Photography (New York), the Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago), the  Silver Eye Center for Photography (Pittsburgh, PA), and The Katonah Museum of Art (Katonah, NY), among others. She has been an instructor of photography at the American University (Washington, DC) and Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore).


Special thanks to our generous sponsors:

City of Newport News

Towne Bank


Ramona and Robert Deal

William and Janice Grace

Mary Katherine Evans Hogg

Elizabeth Holt

Larry King Law

Terri ’86 and Matt McKnight

Mary Neale­­­­­

quick edit